Matthew Hedges 'may be able to sue UAE on human rights breach basis'

Matthew Hedges 'may be able to sue UAE on human rights breach basis'

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Matthew Hedges, the British man who was jailed for spying in the United Arab Emirates, plans to sue the state according to reports.

Barrister Ossie Osman, who joined Mike Graham to discuss the case, said there there is “nothing in law to suggest an individual cannot sue a state”.

The UAE said Mr Hedges was pardoned after his family sent a letter appealing for clemency, and on Twitter, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt praised the UK’s ambassador to the UAE, Patrick Moody, for his “work behind the scenes”.



State immunity

“Some people might say that if you were Matthew Hedges, and you had a terrible experience in the UAE, you might want to leave it at that rather than going after them in the law courts,” Graham said.

“There is that, given the trauma that he’s been through. It’s quite an incredible story,” agreed Mr Osman.

The UAE claimed Mr Hedges was a member of MI6, and said it has a taped confession of him saying he is an “MI6 captain”.

However, no such rank exists within the secret service, and the name “MI6” is not one officials tend to use.

On whether Mr Hedges could sue the state, Mr Osman said: “Without getting too technical about it, there is something called state immunity.

“A state can always say, ‘I’m not going to permit you to sue me because I’ve got immunity, we came to a decision through our justice system’.

“Of course that doesn’t stop an individual from suing, he can bring an action on the basis there was a malicious prosecution.”

Mr Hedges’ wife Daniela Tejada hired a barrister, Rodney Dixon QC, while he was in jail.

Mr Dixon told the Telegraph: “We will explore all legal options and remedies to clear [Mr Hedges’] name of this false and unfounded conviction.”


'Breach of human rights'

Mr Osman explained that it is not unheard of for individuals to bring cases against states if they feel their rights have been breached under the European Convention on Human Rights.

“This young man has been through a very traumatic experience,” he added.

“He was out there under the genuine belief that he was undertaking legitimate research. Given the treatment he received - if it was true he was subjected to solitary confinement and that he wasn’t allowed access to a lawyer - there is a sense there that he’s had a fundamental breach of his most basic human rights.”