Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 May 2019

Qatari diplomat treated pensioner like his ‘personal slave’

Somali-born Mohamoud Ahmed claims he was physically and racially abused while working at the Qatari embassy in London

Mohamoud Ahmed, former employee of the Qatar embassy in London, where it is alleged he was physically and racially abused by a Qatari diplomat. Pete Maclaine / i-Images
Mohamoud Ahmed, former employee of the Qatar embassy in London, where it is alleged he was physically and racially abused by a Qatari diplomat. Pete Maclaine / i-Images

A Qatari diplomat at the centre of a racial discrimination case has been accused of treating a pensioner working at the Qatar embassy in London as his “personal slave”.

Mohamoud Ahmed, 79, began work at the embassy as a night security officer in 2003 but his working hours increased dramatically when Abdullah Al Ansari was appointed as medical attaché in 2007.

Giving evidence as a witness at a London employment tribunal on Tuesday, Mr Al Ansari said that Mr Ahmed would perform tasks such as fetching his shopping, dropping off his dry cleaning and picking his children up from school during the week and from activities at the weekend.

The hearing heard that these personal and administrative tasks, carried out between the hours of 9.30am and 4pm, seven days a week were outside of Mr Ahmed’s contracted hours of 4pm to 9.30am, Monday to Friday.

When asked if he expected Mr Ahmed to be available 24/7, the Mr Al Ansari replied that the pensioner did the extra work because “he liked me”.

“I never asked him to work for me 24 hours a day,” the diplomat told the hearing using an interpreter. “He never complained.”

In a witness statement, Mr Al Ansari claimed to have made private payments to Mr Ahmed in cash of between £800-£1000 a month as well as tips for taking on additional duties outside of his security role.

However, this was disputed by Edward Kemp, the lawyer for Mr Ahmed, who said Mr Al Ansari could provide no evidence of bank withdrawals to support this claim, nor did he keep a written record of the payments made to Mr Ahmed.

“These payments were never made, that is the truth,” said Mr Kemp. “You exploited the claimant and treated him as your personal slave.”

The diplomat denied the claims, adding: “I give generously to all staff.”

In his witness statement, Mr Ahmed, who left his job at the embassy in August 2013, alleges he was sacked after being physically and racially abused by Mr Al Ansari.

The Somali-born pensioner, who is a British citizen, said the diplomat began verbally abusing him from 2008 until he left the mission, frequently being called a “donkey” and a “dog”.

The alleged verbal abuse continued to escalate as the years went on, he claimed.

“I felt like I was in a prison,” Mr Ahmed said of his employment at the embassy.

He alleges that Mr Al Ansari struck him twice at work; the first time in 2012 and the second in August 2013.

On the latter occasion, he said the diplomat called him a “donkey”, a “dog” and “Abd”, meaning black slave in Arabic.

Mr Ahmed claims that when he stood up to the abuse following the second physical assault, he was immediately dismissed.

After seeking legal advice in 2013, he said that another staff member at the embassy offered him between £30,000 and £50,000 to drop the case.

In his witness statement, Mr Al Ansari denies physically assaulting Mr Ahmed and using racially discriminatory language against him. He also claims Mr Ahmed was not dismissed from his role.

He said he saw Mr Ahmed as a “father figure” and was keen to make sure he was “looked after and treated with respect”.

However, the attaché did admit to calling Mr Ahmed a “donkey”, which he said in Arabic was “a commonly used word when joking with another”.

The racial discrimination case is one of the first to go to trial against an embassy in the United Kingdom.

For years, the Qatari embassy tried to claim diplomatic immunity using a law known as the State Immunity Act.

However, a 2017 Supreme Court judgement ruled that claiming immunity from employment laws was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, allowing Mr Ahmed to have his case heard.

Updated: March 12, 2019 09:12 PM

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