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A court in London was told that Saudi princes were exempt from immigration controls under ‘sovereign immunity’

Date: (6 March 2013)    |    

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Some of Saudi Arabian royal princes consider themselves to be exempt from UK immigration controls when entering the UK a London court heard. Such a claim leads to the argument that they are entitles to ‘sovereign immunity’ in complex legal case.
In the companies court which is dealing a complex legal case the court was told how the UK border staff were giving special treatment to the Saudi princes and that they were as per argument were entitled to ‘sovereign immunity’.
The two princes are Prince Mishal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and his son, Prince Abdulaziz.
Prince Mishal, 86, is a former defence minister and currently chairman of the influential Allegiance Council, which determines succession to the Saudi throne. He is said to be in a frail state of health.
The dispute involves a company called FI Call Ltd and rival claims over the sale of $6.7m (£4.3m) worth of shares in a case which one judge has described as throwing up "a nuclear mushroom cloud" of litigation.
To prove their declaration the princes had not provided with photocopies of their passports to which the judge Mr Justice Vos said that it shows that they don’t pass immigration controls. They were also said to have had business visas.
The judge continued that VIPs came into the UK in a different way and handed over their passports to the official who takes it to the border agency but even a letter form the Foreign Office- an exercise in ‘studied neutrality” had not confirmed that they were exempt from immigration controls.
QC, representing the two Saudi princes, disagreed and said that the princes considered themselves to be exempt because of the physical events that occur when they come into the UK, they do not pass through immigration he added.
The two Saudi princes carry out duties in which they represent Kind Abdullah. Prince Mishal fulfils such a duty around 30 times a year and works full time assisting the monarch the lawyer added.
To which the judge inquired how a man at 86 did that. He also asked the princes’ lawyer if all 5000 members of Kings household were entitled to such special immunity.
The lawyer replied it was unlikely as Prince Mishal appeared ahead of the Saudi crown prince in order of precedence in many official statements.
The Guardian which has sought access to documents in the case detailing disputed transactions involving Saudi interests in Beirut and Nairobi has to wait till an appeal is disposed off against a decision by another judge who had ordered the documents to be released on principle.