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12 March 2018

Private prosecution brought by Saudi Arabian Sheikh’s company collapses at Southwark Crown Court. The defendants were separately represented by Nick Lobbenberg KC and George Heimler.

The private prosecutor alleged the two defendants, together with others, were involved in dishonesty involving several million pounds. But the defendants questioned the authenticity and provenance of computer-generated documents relied upon by the prosecution.

In May 2017 an independent expert instructed by the defence was refused access to computer server(s) at the private prosecutor’s headquarters in Riyadh. A jury then had to be discharged in July 2017 after the trial judge agreed scientific examination of the computer server(s) in Riyadh was required.

The defence expert travelled to Saudi Arabia in October 2017 pursuant to a court order, to inspect and liaise with the prosecution expert, on a joint report regarding the server on which incriminating emails and attachments were said to exist. In Riyadh, the forensic inspection was denied by the Sheikh’s officials, relying upon a restrictive interpretation of the judge’s order.

The proceedings at Southwark, due to last five weeks, were abandoned on the first day of trial when a newly appointed prosecution team, faced with an abuse of process argument from the defence, decided to offer no evidence.