CPS will not prosecute UAE minister accused of sexually assaulting Briton

The Crown Prosecution Service has declined to prosecute a United Arab Emirates senior royal accused of sexually assaulting a British woman working with his ministerial department to set up a literature festival in Abu Dhabi, arguing that there was not enough evidence that the sheikh was acting in his official duties during the alleged attack.

Caitlin McNamara was the curator of the inaugural Hay festival in Abu Dhabi, which was feted as an opportunity to promote freedom of expression, human rights and women’s rights in the UAE. Earlier this month, she waived her right to anonymity to publicly accuse Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan of sexually assaulting her on 14 February, 11 days before the festival. McNamara alleged the attack happened during what she thought would be a business meeting to discuss the festival, which was being funded by Nahyan’s department, the ministry of tolerance.

Nahyan denied the allegations, first published in the Sunday Times, through London libel lawyers Schillings, who said: “Our client is surprised and saddened by this allegation, which arrives eight months after the alleged incident and via a national newspaper. The account is denied.”

Lawyers acting for McNamara had submitted an opinion to the CPS that Nahyan could be tried under “universal jurisdiction” for cruel and inhuman treatment.

After months of deliberation, Jenny Hopkins, head of the CPS’s special crime and counter terrorism division, said that the CPS had considered the evidence passed to them by the Metropolitan police and that “possible charges of sexual assault and torture were considered”.

The CPS concluded that it could not prosecute Nahyan for sexual assault because the alleged attack had occurred outside its jurisdiction.

For cruel and inhuman treatment under universal jurisdiction, the CPS requires evidence that the suspect is a public official, that they “intentionally inflicted severe pain or suffering” on another person and that they did so in “the performance or purported performance of their official duties”.

While the CPS was satisfied that Nahyan is a public official and that the alleged assault would have caused McNamara pain and suffering, it said there was not enough evidence to suggest Nahyan was acting in his official duties at the time.

“In reaching that conclusion we took into account the complainant’s belief that she was attending a meeting about work when she agreed to meet with the suspect. However, her understanding of the nature of the meeting is not sufficient by itself to prove that the suspect was purporting to act in the performance of his official duties,” the CPS said.

“From the evidence, the suspect’s conduct in arranging the meeting and during the meeting suggests the contrary, that he considered this to be a social meeting and did not want to discuss work. In those circumstances we cannot prove an essential legal element, namely that the assault was committed in the purported performance of the suspect’s public duties and consequently amounts to torture.”

McNamara said she was “deeply disappointed” by the response.

“Unfortunately this decision seems in keeping with the failure of the CPS when dealing with rape and crimes against women,” she said in a statement. “I will be seeking a review.”

Last month, a women’s rights group launched a legal challenge against the CPS over its failure to pursue rape cases. The CPS recently announced it was revamping its guidance to prosecutors in rape cases, including a more generous understanding of how trauma affects victims. Rape convictions in England and Wales have fallen to a record low in the last three years.

Helena Kennedy, QC, who has been assisting McNamara, told the Guardian: “When does the minister of tolerance stop being the minister of tolerance? When he decides? Really! Caitlin has never been in this man’s company alone prior to his asking for this meeting. She had no social interaction with him and she was not asked to a social event. She was meeting the minister … the CPS is appalling at dealing with sexual offences.”

Kennedy previously told the Guardian that if the CPS declined to prosecute Nahyan, she would petition UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab to invoke the “Magnitsky law”, which allows governments to place sanctions against foreign individuals accused of committing human rights abuses. Nahyan, part of the fourth-richest royal family in the world, is believed to own property in north-west London.

The Guardian

Leave a Reply