Saudi princes make complex legal claim for immigration exemption

12 Mar 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A London court has heard that certain royal princes in Saudi Arabia consider themselves to be “exempt from immigration controls” regarding travel to and from the UK.

Prince Mishal bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud and his son Prince Abdulaziz claim that they have organised an arrangement for the royal princes with UK border staff that entitles them to “sovereign immunity”.

The immigration issue has come up as the judge in London has explored the case surround the FI Call Ltd business deal. A substantial sale of its shares prompted what the judge described as a “nuclear mushroom cloud” of litigation.

Lawyers for the two Saudi princes are seeking immunity from litigation akin to that which the monarch of Saudi Arabia is entitled. This is partly due to immigration requests, but also concerns demands for secrecy amid concern that the investigation into the business deal could prompt a number of highly damaging allegations to spring up, which the Saudis have dubbed “outrageous”, “scandalous” and untrue.

The lawyers have since warned that these allegations could, if published, have “an adverse effect” on saudi relations between the Saudi and the UK and the US.

The Guardian reported comments from judge in the case, Paul Morgan: “We all know that VIPs come into this country in a different way and they hand [their passport] to an official who takes it to the border agency.” However, Morgan further observed that a letter from the Foreign Office has not confirmed that the individuals were “exempt from immigration controls”.

Tim Otty QC, representing the princes, argued: “They consider themselves to be exempt because of the physical events that occur when they come into this country.”

The case is continuing and could well throw up a number of unusual aspects of UK immigration law in the proceeds.