Sheik ‘who owns London’ accused over plot to kidnap British man: Former Prime Minster of Qatar allegedly ordered agents to subject man to ‘conditions that amount to torture’
The Qatari royals have become so integrated into British life that the Emir’s cousin is helping to pay for the upkeep of the Queen Mother’s former home in Scotland. But now some rain is about to fall on the Al-Thani family’s parade.
I can disclose that the Gulf state’s former prime minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al-Thani — known as HBJ and nicknamed ‘the man who bought London’ — faces extraordinary claims in the High Court that he was responsible for seizing assets from a British citizen and that agents acting on his behalf subjected the man, Fawaz al-Attiya, to ‘conditions that amount to torture’.
According to the writ, whose claims are vigorously disputed, HBJ was responsible for the seizure of Al-Attiya’s 20,000 square metre property in Doha, the gas-rich gulf state’s capital.
HBJ, who went on a spree in London with his personal fortune and as head of the Qatar Investment Authority, is a friend of Prince Charles and has met David Cameron in Downing Street. Qatar invested in Harrods, Sainsbury’s and the London Stock Exchange.
British-born Al-Attiya, 47, who lives near London, was a spokesman for Qatar.
He allegedly fell foul of HBJ after he refused to sell the Sheik his land at a price ‘considerably below’ market value.
HBJ’s lawyers say the land was ‘acquired by the state in accordance with law’, on similar grounds to compulsory purchase and he played no role in the process.
It is claimed that HBJ ordered Fawaz be abducted while he was staying in Dubai and brought back to Qatar. After a bungled attempt to abduct him, Al-Attiya moved to Saudi Arabia, but was ‘forcibly removed’ in 2009.
HBJ says Al-Attiya was not abducted but extradited by the Saudis ‘in accordance with well-established procedures agreed between member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council’, and that none of the actions were directed by him.
The writ claims that in Qatar Al-Attiya was imprisoned and refused contact with his family or lawyer.
It claims he was kept in solitary confinement and subjected to excessive use of handcuffs.
He also allegedly lacked access to sufficient food and water, fresh air and sunlight, exercise and adequate bedding, and experienced sleep deprivation.
The writ claims HBJ subjected him to ‘conditions that amount to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, in breach of Qatari law and international law’.
HBJ’s lawyers, Carter-Ruck, dismissed the claims as ridiculous and say he was ‘treated in a manner that accorded fully with Qatari and international law’.
Although, according to the writ, Al-Attiya was told by prison guards he would be held indefinitely, a judge ordered his immediate release in 2010. Yet he was not freed until 2011.
Al-Attiya is seeking damages from HBJ, whom he accuses of ‘arbitary, oppressive and unconstitutional’ conduct.
HBJ says the allegations are ‘wholly unsustainable on grounds relating to sovereign and diplomatic immunity, as well as the demonstrable facts of the case’.
Let the court battle commence.
None of dad’s reticence for Day-Lewis Jr
Like father, like son: Daniel Day-Lewis’s son Gabriel- Kane Day-Lewis, 20, is a budding model
Like father, like son: Daniel Day-Lewis’s son Gabriel- Kane Day-Lewis, 20, is a budding model
His triple-Oscar-winning actor father Daniel Day-Lewis is famously publicity-shy, but son Gabriel- Kane Day-Lewis clearly has no such inhibitions.
The 20-year-old model and musician, whose mother is French actress Isabelle Adjani, has posed for Parisian store Galeries Lafayette alongside model Camille Rowe, with the resulting pictures displayed on the side of the building.
Underneath the multiple piercings and his plethora of tattoos, Gabriel-Kane has inherited his father’s chiseled cheekbones and distinctive eyebrows.
‘In middle school, I was always teased for my disproportionate eyebrows,’ he has said. ‘And now they’re actually getting me work.’
Jeremy Corbyn may have refused to sing the National Anthem this week but he hasn’t always been shy about cosying up to the Establishment.
In 2013, the bearded Trot threw a party to mark his 30th year in Parliament, in the state rooms at Speaker’s House.
No word on how much the Westminster jamboree for teetotal Corbyn and comrades cost, though I am assured the scourge of the moneyed elite settled the bill ‘privately’.
Champagne socialism at its finest.
Actor Robert Lindsay was not impressed with BBC1’s adaptation of D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, which excised the swearing and toned down the rumpy-pumpy in favour of ‘soft-focus’ sex scenes.
‘This was so remote from Lawrence’s novel that we could only despair,’ complains Lindsay, whose mood was surely lightened by the ascension of Citizen Smith-esque Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership.
How much of London Qatar REALLY owns
Harrods and The Shard were just the beginning for the mega-rich emirate…
Ah, Qatar. Today news has broken that the mega-rich Arab emirate might snap up the 164-year-old chain House of Fraser. This comes just weeks after it was rumoured to be eyeing up M&S (read my comment on whether we should have cared that the iconic supermarket could have fallen into foreign hands).
Have you spotted a theme here? Qatar is snapping up London icons faster than you can say Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. We first reported on its London spending spree back in 2011, by which time it had already invested upwards of £10bn in London. And the oil state has been dripping in even more money since then…
The Shard: 95% owned by Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund
The tallest skyscraper in Europe, at some 72 storeys, is a very visual reminder of how powerful Qatar’s sovereign wealth, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), now is in London in property ownership terms.
In 2012 it was calculated that Qatar is the richest country by per capita income – so it’s no surprise that Emiratis bought almost one in 30 London homes worth more than £2m in the past year.
Harrods: owned by Qatar Investment Authority
Perhaps to fuel the consumer appetites of the increasing numbers of its 1.7 million citizens buying property in London, in 2010 Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund bought Harrods for £1.5bn.
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani told the FT in 2010: “We are investing everywhere. Even your Harrods – we took it.”
Barclays: 6.67% owned by Qatar Investment Authority
This stake might not seem as significant as the other chunks of London owned by the emirate, but it still makes Qatar Barclay’s biggest stakeholder.
At the time Qatar was seen as a white knight investor, avoiding our government from having to bail out another British bank by helping it raise £7m capital in 2008.
It sold off its last remaining warrants used to raise the capital in November 2012, only for multiple accusations of wrongdoings in January and February this year. Barclays was accused of lending £6m to Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund in a complex deal so it could avoid government bail-out. Read more about this story.
The Olympic Village: owned by Qatari Diar
This prime patch of London 2012 legacy was acquired by Qatari Diar, a branch of the ruling royals’ QIA fund that handles property, for £557m in August 2011.
The deal was said to leave UK taxpayers £275m out of pocket. The site was sold by the Olympic Delivery Authority. The Qataris have said they will build more than 1,400 homes on the site.
Chelsea Barracks: owned by Qatari Diar
The property arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth has been dithering over its £3bn plans for this £1bn site of late. Throughout January and February it was unclear whether the project would go ahead at all, but last month Qatari Diar chief executive officer, Khalid El-Sayyed, announced that work had begun to build 450 luxury apartments and more than 120 affordable homes.
The fund got planning permission for the site in 2011 but only had a five-year window to start work.
Sainsbury’s: 26% owned by Qatar
This chunky stake makes Qatar the largest stakeholder of Sainsbury’s. It upped its stake in 2007 through its investment vehicle Delta Two, having previously owned juts under 18%.
One Hyde Park: joint venture between Qatari Prime Minister and Candy Brothers
It’s the world’s most expensive apartment block, with one five-bedroom flat notoriously on the market for £65m.
The £1bn block is owned by by Guernsey-registered Project Grande (Guernsey) Limited, a joint venture between the Candy’s CPC Group and Waterknights, the development company owned by Qatari prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.
But is this uber-rich playground actually a good investment? Find out in our investigation: One Hyde Park: failure or fortune-maker?
Camden Market: 20% owned by Qatar
Unlikely as it may seem, the grunge capital of London is indeed one-fifth owned by Qatar, since it acquired a stake of the same size in property group Chelsfield, which owns the market. The QIA’s Hussain Abdullah said the investment offered a good opportunity to buy up further assets. No doubt in London.
London Stock Exchange: 20% stake
Qatar bought up the one-fifth stake of LSE in 2007, and took a 9.98% stake in Nordic exchange OMX at the same time. Borse Dubai bought a 28% stake in LSE at the same time. LSE CEO Xavier Rolet has written us before on why he believes the London Stock Exchange must be international – it’s worth a read.