An aide to Dubai’s royal family was sacked after refusing to spy on a dignitary suspected of conducting an affair at one of their British palaces, a tribunal has heard.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum owns the Surrey palace where Ejil Mohammed Ali, right, was an aide Photo: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PLEDGER
By Murray Wardrop
The unfair dismissal case launched by Ejil Mohammed Ali has thrown a rare spotlight on life in the royal household, including allegations of extra-marital relationships and drug addiction.
Mr Ali, 32, alleges that superiors told him a dignatry from Dubai staying at one of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s royal palaces was having an affair with a personal aide several years their junior.
He also claims that Sheikh Rashid, the eldest son of the multi-billionaire racehorse owner, recently underwent drug rehabilitation.
As the stores supervisor at the family’s sprawling Longross Palace near Chertsey, Surrey, Mr Ali claims he came into regular contact with the Arab family, describing them as “very down to earth people.”
But he alleges that his career came to an abrupt end when he refused demands from his bosses to spy on the dignitary, who they believed was being unfaithful with another member of staff.
He claims that when he refused, he was bullied, harassed and eventually dismissed from his £60,000-a-year job.
The dignitary cannot be named because the tribunal imposed a gagging order preventing details of the alleged affair being published.
There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Sheikh Mohammed, who is the world’s most influential racehorse owner through his Godolphin stables, or any of his family.
Mr Ali claims he was a “trusted servant of the royal family”, working for UK Mission Enterprises Ltd – a company which provides logistics exclusively for the royal family.
He alleges that in June 2009 he was summoned to a meeting with the firm’s managing director Abdulla Shakeri, and Abdullah Al-Mansoori, a diplomat for the United Arab Emirates.
He claims that the pair asked him to exploit his “privileged access” at the palace to spy on a dignatary they suspected of having an affair.
As a sweetener, he was offered the chance to buy Mr Al-Mansoori’s £15,000 convertible BMW car for just £1,000, the tribunal was told.
“They suspected that [the dignitary] was having an affair with [a] personal assistant and wanted me to find out the truth for them,” Mr Ali said.
“They wanted me to spy on [them] when [they] were visiting Longcross.”
The father-of-one said he refused the “mission” because he thought it was illegal and that when he threatened to call the police, Mr Al-Mansoori replied: “I’m a diplomat, nobody can touch me.”
He claims he was suspended in September 2009 and sacked four months later following a “sham dismissal process” in which he was accused of racism, theft, Islamic extremism, and threats to kill colleagues.
Mr Ali also claims that before he was sacked, his employers sent henchmen to follow him and vandalise his home, leaving he and his family fearing for their safety.
Two of his colleagues, Edwin Amagua and Olatunji Faleye, are also claiming unfair dismissal and discrimination respectively, alleging that they were forced out of their jobs after refusing to sign false statements about Mr Ali’s conduct.
The three claimants, from London, are collectively suing UK Mission Enterprise Ltd, Mr Shakeri, Mr Al-Mansoori and Yousuf Mohammed, a former colleague.
The respondents deny all the allegations. They claim the men were dismissed because their work did not meet the required standards.
They also deny that Mr Ali was ever asked to spy on the dignitary or that he ever came into contact with the person.
Sheikh Mohammed, 61, is Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and reportedly has a personal fortune of £8 billion.
His elder wife, Sheikha Hind, who is rarely seen in public, is thought to be in her 50s and the mother of 12 of Sheikh Mohammed’s children.
His second wife is Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, a 36-year-old international showjumping champion, who gave birth to a daughter in 2007.
The Sheikh’s vast UK property empire includes numerous homes in and around London, including Longcross – thought to be worth around £75 million – as well as his own palace, thousands of acres of land, and stables near Newmarket, Suffolk – the home of British horseracing.
The hearing at the Central London Employment Tribunal continues.