Briton acquitted in Dubai over tweet

21 Mar

David HaighImage copyright
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Briton David Haigh, the former managing director of Leeds United, has been acquitted in Dubai over charges relating to a tweet.

Mr Haigh had pleaded not guilty to cyber slander after he was accused of sending an offensive tweet about a business partner.

He has been behind bars in Dubai since May 2014, serving a two-year sentence for financial misappropriation.

His spokesman said he was delighted to see the end of a “22-month nightmare”.

Ian Monk, Mr Haigh’s spokesman, said: “David is delighted that the nightmare of almost two years in jail… is now coming to an end. David now hopes to be reunited with his family in the UK for Easter. He will have more to say then.”

Mr Haigh had been detained in what the BBC’s Mark Lobel said were “squalid conditions” at a detention cell at the back of a big police station in Dubai.

Human Rights Watch had previously described the cyber charges as “repressive” and had asked the UK government to call for his release.

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Mr Haigh has been detained in Dubai since 2014

The Yorkshire-born solicitor and businessman was originally arrested in Dubai on 18 May 2014, when he was detained without charge for 14 months and had his worldwide assets frozen.

Then in August 2015, he was convicted of misappropriating items of monetary value from a position of trust from his former Dubai-based employer and sentenced to two years in prison – the majority of which he had already served.

He had expected to return to the UK on 16 November last year, after serving 18 months behind bars.

The latest complaint against Mr Haigh was from his former employer, investment bank Gulf Finance House (GFH), about tweets sent from his Twitter account in March 2015.

Mr Haigh denied the allegations and argued that he could not have committed the alleged Twitter offence while in jail. He said British-based supporters were handling his Twitter account on his behalf.

The Briton had been the deputy chief executive of GFH Capital Limited, a fully-owned subsidiary of GFH, before resigning on 10 March 2014.


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