Foreign Office urged to intervene to free fish and chip entrepreneur embroiled in row with Saudi royals

Charles Hymas
·3 min read
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The Foreign Office faces questions in Parliament after refusing to intervene to free a British fish and chip entrepreneur arrested in a dispute with Saudi royals over their failure to honour a business deal.

MP Justin Madders said he will raise the case of his constituent Gary Arnold in the Commons after Foreign Office minister James Cleverly told him the Government would not intervene despite evidence that the Saudi royals have reneged on a legally-binding deal.

Mr Arnold, 50, who successfully introduced fish and chips to the Middle East was arrested in Dubai last week over unpaid debts which he blames on the failure of the Saudi royals to keep their part of a deal to buy out his business.

A court in Saudi subsequently found in Mr Arnold’s favour and ordered the Saudi royals’ company to pay him 5,087,500 riyals (£1,032,435) under the terms of the original deal but they have still not done so.

Mr Madders said: “The Government can choose to get involved in this if it wants to. Washing its hands of a UK citizen in this way is an appalling way to go about business. I would urge them to try to use their influence to get him released as soon as possible.”

It follows a letter from Mr Cleverly to him, saying: “As I am sure you can appreciate, we cannot intervene in the legal processes of another country just as we would not allow such intervention in the UK. In addition we are unable to get involved in private disputes between individuals.”

Mr Cleverly added that he appreciated it was a “distressing time” for Mr Arnold and his family but assured the MP that “our embassy in Dubai is aware of Mr Arnold’s situation and providing consular assistance.”

It is understood Mr Arnold is being held in Dubai Bur police station over eight charges of unpaid debts including one with a maximum two-year jail sentence.

His lawyer, Toby Cadman, said the Foreign Office arguments were “disingenuous,” adding: “Where there is a risk of an abuse of process and/or a flagrant denial of justice there is not only a basis for intervention, there is an obligation to intervene.  

“It is hard to see what further evidence is required to demonstrate this. Moreover, it is simply untrue.”

Mr Cadman cited five other cases where the Government had intervened including Mohammed Nasheed (Maldives), Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe (Iran), John Doughall (Greece), Matthew Hedges (UAE) and Al Jazeera Journalists (Egypt).  

Mr Arnold and his lawyers said he and his business partners have not received the money agreed in 2017 as part of the merger and acquisition of their firm, London Business Group, by the Saudis’ family company, Harbor Holdings-Himmah Foods.

The move has pitted him and his partners against a high-profile family of Saudi royals, central to which is Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al Saud, the current chairman of Harbor Holdings.

Two other royals are linked to the company but deny any involvement in the fish and chip deal. They are its ex-chairman Prince Khalid bin Bandar al Saud, Saudi ambassador to London, and its co-founder Princess Reema bint Bandar al Saud, Saudi ambassador to Washington.