Stirling: Qatar’s UK business holdings should support wrongfully detained expats
Due Process International CEO identifies Qatar investments in UK as possible impediment to govt intervention for citizens detained in Doha; same investments can be leveraged for resolving expat issues. Radha Stirling contacting major Qatar-owned UK companies to assist with cases of Jonathan Nash and Ranald Crook.
With an increasing number of British citizens suffering unjust treatment and wrongful convictions in Qatar, it is time to take stock of the Gulf state’s holdings in the UK, according to Radha Stirling, founder and CEO of Due Process International and Detained in Doha. “Many people are not aware of just how pervasive Qatar’s presence is in the United Kingdom,” Stirling says, “This is quite concerning given the severity of Doha’s treatment of British citizens in their country. We cannot help but wonder if the extent of these financial interests may be compromising Britain’s willingness to support and intervene on behalf of our citizens.”
Two of Stirling’s British clients in Qatar have been struggling for justice for years; Jonathan Nash and Ranald Crook. Both men were the victims of Qatar’s biased legal system, with Nash facing potentially a life sentence for bounced company cheques that his partners deliberately chose not to cover, and Crook suffering a targeted campaign of legal abuse by Qatari business partners with close ties to the royal family. “Ranald Crook, rather remarkably, has been acquitted in case after case,” Stirling explains, “His deportation was ordered, yet he remains under a travel ban and has been stuck in Qatar, away from his family, with no income, for years. The British government could easily intervene and resolve the situation with a few simple phone calls to the Interior Ministry, but seem reluctant to take any action. The family of Jonathan Nash has continuously sought assistance from the FCO, with little or no response.”
Stirling says Qatar’s economic clout in the UK may explain why British citizens arbitrarily detained in the oil rich nation are seemingly abandoned by their own government. “Qatar’s investments in the UK have been strategic, with a 25% ownership of British Airways, the second largest share in Barclays, over 20% ownership of Sainsbury’s, partial ownership of Heathrow; Doha wields tremendous influence and, frankly, that is dangerous for British expats in Qatar.”
Long term campaigning on behalf of Nash and Crook with the British government has led to little more than lip-service, Stirling says, so her organisation has begun reaching out to those individuals and entities that represent Qatar’s private sector influence in the UK. “We have written to David John Potts of the Ritz Hotel in London, which is owned by the brother-in-law of the Emir of Qatar expressing our urgent concerns about Jonathan Nash and Ranald Crook, and we will be contacting other Qatar-linked businesses and executives as well, such as Harrods, Sainsbury’s, the Shard, and the Canary Wharf Group,” Stirling explains, “These are all institutions of British culture and commerce, and we believe they have a duty, and are well-positioned, to help resolve the ongoing injustice Ranald and Jonathan are suffering.”
There has been increasing scrutiny amidst the Covid-19 pandemic of foreign ownership in key sectors of the British economy and the extent to which these financial relationships may be impacting the UK’s political decisions. Last month the British Parliament even launched an inquiry into the FCO’s role in allowing foreign investors to seize control of vital UK assets. “We have been assisting British citizens abroad for over 12 years, and there has been a notable increase in the passivity of the UK government in its dealings with the Gulf States when Britons are being abused by those legal systems,” Stirling explains, “With rare exceptions, the government has been inactive, and it has only been through public outcry that innocent Brits have secured their freedom. In our view, Qatar and other Gulf nations have undue influence over how our government addresses the rampant corruption, legal abuse, and human rights violations committed in the region against our own citizens. We have therefore concluded that those countries’ holdings in the UK may be the best leverage we have in defending innocent Britons unfairly detained in the Gulf. Public concern for how our citizens are treated can directly impact Qatar’s financial interests in the UK; their presence here can make Qatar more accountable, rather than less accountable, as has been the case up until now.”