Dominica owns up to aid lure in Masari case

Dominica has conceded that its decision to accept the Saudi dissident Mohammed al-Masari, ordered out of Britain amid claims that the Government was seeking to protect huge arms deals, was motivated by commercial interests.

While denying it received cash from the UK government, the Dominican Prime Minister, Eddison James, has made it clear that financial aid and a guaranteed trade in its cash crop, bananas, were at issue. "If Britain were to lose billions and billions of pounds ... it might well be they would not be able to buy our bananas or buy at the rate we would like, or be able to continue to give us the level of aid we would like. There lies the relationship between their commercial interest and our commercial interest," he said.

"We did this for a friendly government ... The British are taking action to safeguard jobs and commercial interests in Britain. Our economy is deeply intertwined with that of Britain. We had to take the total picture into consideration."

The admission came in a televised phone-in with the Prime Minister yesterday shown to an immigration adjudicator hearing Dr Masari's appeal against deportation. Mr Eddison was asked if his government had been bribed to take Dr Masari. "There was no deal money. No money exchanged hands," he said.

Dr Masari heads the Committee for the Defence of Legitimate Rights, pledged to establish an Islamic republic in Saudi. His activities since arriving in Britain last year have infuriated the Saudi royal family, which threatened to withhold contracts.

Britain stands to benefit by up to pounds 20bn from the Al-Yamamah arms deal. Home Office ministers have admitted the deportation order was influenced by the need to maintain good relations with Saudi Arabia. They have made it clear they consider Dominica a safe haven.

But yesterday lawyers for Dr Masari said he would be a "reluctant pioneer" if the Government deported him. Dominica has no refugees and, therefore, limited legal safeguards.

Andrew Nicol QC, questioned whether a letter from Mr James to the British government offering asylum to Dr Masari had any real value, because other pieces of the country's legislation put him at risk of being removed. A range of legislation allowed ministers to expel aliens "if it is expedient for peace and good order", if they were unable to support themselves, or, crucially, because of their "standards or habits of life".

Details of Dominican legislation were given to the hearing by Nicholas Liverpool, a Caribbean appeal court judge. Earlier, Dr Liverpool, called by the Home Office, had told Judge David Pearl, the chief special adjudicator, that the government's letter gave Dr Masari a reasonable expectation he would be welcomed in Dominica. But on the video, Mr James promised only to consider any claim for asylum.

Outside the court, George Galloway, Labour MP and organiser of the Masari Must Stay campaign, said: "Our moral credentials as a fair country are prejudiced by a decision which represents getting off our knees and on to our bellies to the Saudi regime."

The hearing continues today.

Saudi succession, page 7

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England