Posted by Simon Bassett, Partner
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MP’s concern that billionaire’s case cannot be heard in UK divorce courts
Questions have been raised after it emerged that a billionaire is being shielded from a massive divorce settlement because of his diplomatic immunity.
Walid Juffali was recently appointed to an ambassadorial role in St Lucia, a small island in the heart of the Caribbean.
This position grants the Saudi national immunity from the British courts and up to this point he has been able to refuse attempts by his former wife, Christina Estrada, to have their case heard in London.
This week, veteran MP Andrew Rosindell has criticised the arrangement.
Mr Rosindell, a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, has urged St Lucia’s government to lift the immunity, which he claims makes “a mockery of diplomatic privileges”.
He said: “It seems strange that a position traditionally held by St Lucia’s High Commissioner should be handed to an individual with little connection to the island, and who apparently lacks the relevant experience to advise the International Maritime Organisation [a key part of the role].
“Diplomatic immunity is a huge privilege, and should only be exercised in the most demanding and relevant instances. To use it for personal benefit risks making a mockery of diplomatic privileges.
“There is an argument to suggest the St Lucia government waive Mr Juffali’s immunity for the duration of any civil case he is involved with.”
Mr Juffali is facing legal action from his former wife following the end of their 13-year marriage in 2014. The couple’s representatives have declined to comment on the ongoing row.
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