Former Leeds United Football Club managing director David Haigh today spoke to the delegates of the United Nations 36th Human Rights conference about his personal experiences of torture and unfair trails in the UAE.
David joined leading human rights barristers and human rights organisations in addressing torture and injustice in the UAE.
David Haigh, former MD of Leeds United Football Club, and UAE government torture victim
David Haigh was held prisoner in Dubai jails for 22 months, 20 months in arbitrary detention without charge or investigation, until he was eventually charged with and then acquitted of "twitter abuse" of his former employers in March 2016. During the 22 months in which he was detained, David was denied every basic element of a fair trial that the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights seeks to protect and enshrine; including access to lawyers, translators, evidence, witnesses, legal papers, even paper and a pen. He was prevented from speaking to the judge, from presenting evidence and even from attending the court hearings.
On top of all this, his case was subjected to judicial and administrative bungling as jurisdiction fell between the Arabic Dubai courts and a new DIFC Free Zone court, neither court engaging with the other and both issuing illegal orders. One court granting bail and the other refusing to allow it.
After speaking to the United Nations David said "I am honoured and humbled to have been invited to speak at the United Nations.
The United Nations is an invaluable organisation in the world today. When your own Government puts trade ahead of torture and fails to protect you, as the British Government fails to protect Brits all around the world, you come to realise the critical role the United Nations plays in holding the worlds Governments to account. I feel much safer today knowing that the United Nations is here.
The horrors of what happened to me need to be presented on a global stage so that a light can be shone on the dark illegal acts of the UAE government in their jails and courts.
The UAE’s PR and marketing machine misrepresents to the world that they are a modern, fair and tolerant society. This media campaign hides a very dark truth that the UAE can and must address.
There are many thousands of people trapped in the UAE, suffering injustices and being abused every day.
The UAE must be called upon to stop its mistreatment of the world's citizens and it must not become the world’s first corporate jail, where unscrupulous parties can use the corrupt UAE justice system as a litigation tool."
David talked for the first time to the United Nations on his terrible ordeal, he set out in detail how he was repeatedly tortured and beaten by police in an attempt to extract a false confession, he was also raped.
David also set out a chilling account of seeing countless others tortured and abused in front of him, in the very same detention facility where British citizen Lee Bradley brown was reportedly murdered by the Dubai police.
David said this ordeal was by far the worst he has endured in his life.
David is a British citizen, he had lived in Dubai for eight years before moving back to The UK to run Leeds United in 2012. After his acquittal and release in 2016, rather than forgetting the experience, David has taken to supporting charities and those detained in the UAE and to talk about his experiences to raise awareness of the international crimes carried out by the UAE state.
David's business partner Radha Stirling. CEO of Detained IN Dubai
David has filed a complaint with the United Nations Special Rapporteur of torture, arbitrary detention and unfair trials. He has also registered a complaint with the British metropolitan police over torture. Since his release, David has spent 5 months in hospital having various surgeries and treatment to repair the physical and mental damage done by torture. He now works with UAE justice specialist and CEO of Detained In Dubai Radha Stirling on a legal consultancy focusing on the UAE called Stirling Haigh and a charity called Du Justice which aims to provide free legal assistance to those suffering in the UAE.