(London) 13 March 2019 – A Qatari diplomat called his driver a “dog”, “donkey” and a “black slave” during a campaign of physical and racial abuse while working at the country’s embassy in London, a tribunal has heard.
Abdullah Ali Al-Ansari, a diplomat who is currently employed as the Embassy’s head of its medical centre, is alleged to have subjected Mahamoud Ahmed, 79, his former driver and the organisation’s night security officer, to mental and physical abuse over a number of years. The attaché allegedly treated him like a “personal slave” who was “on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week”.
It emerged yesterday during proceedings at the Central London Employment Tribunal that he also allegedly offered Mr Ahmed a £50,000 bribe to drop the unfair dismissal case against him in a bid to “buy his silence”.
Mr Ahmed, a 79-year-old British citizen of Somali heritage, was sacked from the Embassy in 2013.
He wished to bring his case to tribunal years ago, however it was halted for more than a year until a Court of Appeal ruling in a 2015 which meant that embassies could not claim diplomatic immunity against staff bringing legal actions. The landmark ruling meant that Mr Ahmed was able to proceed with his case.
Details of the Mr Ahmed’s allegations have now been heard for the first time as his case against the Qatari embassy and Mr Al-Ansari continued.
Mr Ahmed, claims he suffered racist and ageist discrimination which he claimed left him feeling like he was “in prison”. As well as alleging that he was repeatedly called “old man”, “dog” and “dirty one” and ‘abd’ in Arabic – which translates as “black slave” – he claims that he was physically attacked twice between 2007 and 2013.
The pensioner’s claim form, seen by The Telegraph, also details the allegation that he was offered a bung to drop his case.
The former driver said that following the second of two alleged physical assaults at the hands of his boss, he left the Embassy. Soon after, he was contacted by a fellow driver who asked where he was “so that he could come to me and give me £50,000 on behalf of [Mr Al-Ansari] to drop the case and offer me my job back”.
“I had no intention though of returning to my job and didn’t take the offer because I wanted justice rather than have my silence bought,” Mr Ahmed claimed.
The court heard that he worked at the Mayfair embassy in between 2004 until 2013. His contract details his job title as ‘night security officer’ and working hours from 4pm until 9.30am from Monday to Friday.
However Mr Al-Ansari, made a “personal arrangement” with him involving paying him lump cash sums of cash and tips in exchange for carrying out favours such as running errands.
He claimed he would often instruct him to “keep the change” from £20 and £50 notes for buying lunch and lump payments totalling between £800 to £1,000 a month. He added that over the course of his employment he gave Mr Ahmed around £10,000.
Edward Kemp, for Mr Ahmed, said that there were no bank accounts and no audit trail “Those payments were never made and that’s the truth.” He added that that the “private arrangement” was merely a smokescreen to cover up the truth of the relationship” that Mr Ahmed was his “personal slave”.
Mr Ahmed’s claim was delayed while the courts ruled on whether the staff of foreign embassies were entitled to employment rights. In 2017 the Supreme Court ruled that it was incompatible with European human rights law for embassies to claim immunity from employment laws.
Mr Al-Ansari and the Qatari Embassy deny all the allegations. The case continues.