I was tortured in Dubai prison, claims former Leeds United chief David Haigh

Elland Road

The former Leeds United managing director David Haigh has claimed he was repeatedly tortured and abused while in prison accused of fraud in Dubai.

Haigh, released from 23 months of detention last month, said he had experienced five “serious episodes” of physical abuse, and witnessed the torture of other inmates. The authorities in Dubai have yet to comment on his allegations.

Haigh was arrested in Dubai in May 2014 after being accused of fraud by his former employer, the Dubai-based private equity group GFH Capital, which bought Leeds in 2012. It was alleged that he had faked invoices and illegally channelled money to bank accounts he controlled – claims strenously denied by Haigh, who said he was set up.

He was due to be released on 16 November last year, but on 14 November he was charged with slandering a business partner in a tweet written eight months earlier. He was acquitted and released in March.

Haigh told the Yorkshire Evening Post that the experience had been “horrific”, saying the alleged mistreatment began soon after his arrest: “I was punched around, I was hit, I was tasered. People attempted to sexually abuse me. I now have a problem with my eyes, you are constantly kept in the dark … it damages your eyes.”

Describing the sanitary conditions in the Bur Dubai police centre, he added: “It was a mixture of everything you don’t want to smell in your life. You are surrounded by this depravity.

“I will never forget, I was sitting there and the police are torturing a guy behind me. I don’t know what he had done, but they had thrown him on the floor, tasering him, kicking him in the head, three or four of them, getting a catapult, putting it on his testicles.”

Talking to the BBC’s Newsnight, Haigh added: “They were trying to scare me, telling me that I needed to confess, that if I confessed everything would be fine, that I could leave, they would give me bail – but if I didn’t, I was looking at 10 years.”

He also accused the British embassy in Dubai of offering “wholly inadequate” support. “There are a hundred or more British people that have had their human rights abused, that have not had fair trials, that have been detained arbitrarily … It’s shocking.”

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesman said: “Our embassy staff were in almost daily contact with Mr Haigh throughout his detention, and this included regular checks on his welfare. We also regularly raised his case with UAE authorities, letting them know we were following it closely.

“We take Mr Haigh’s allegations of mistreatment extremely seriously and are setting out our concerns to the UAE authorities. We only raise allegations of mistreatment when we have the individual’s consent to do so.”

Haigh told the Yorkshire Evening Post he was now focused on taking action over his alleged treatment: “I am here this week speaking to lawyers and then I will be getting medical treatment for my eyes and the stress and all sorts of horrible things that have happened to me. After that my legal fightback needs to begin.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian sport, for The Guardian on Thursday 7th April 2016 11.56 Europe/London

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