Gaddafi feared poison pen mail, court told

Insight emerges in High Court case aginst senior member of Saudi royal family

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The Independent Online

Colonel Gaddafi would not handle letters written to him because of fears for his safety, it was claimed today.

The insight into the former Libyan leader's bunker mentality emerged during a High Court case brought by a Jordanian businesswoman against a senior member of the Saudi royal family. 

Consultant Daad Sharab said the dictator, who was toppled and killed by rebels in 2011, would only touch copies made of original documents for "security reasons".

Gadaffi was the subject of numerous assassination attempts including the 1986 US missile strike on his Tripoli compound.

Mrs Sharab is embroiled in a multi-million pound legal battle with Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, owner of The Savoy hotel in London.

She claims she is owed £6.5m in unpaid commission by the Prince for her part in the sale of his private Airbus to the former Libyan leader. Lawyers for the billionaire investor deny her claim arguing that no fixed commission was agreed.

The lavishly opulent airliner was fitted with a double bed, silver leather sofas and a whirlpool bath.

In 2009 it was used to collect Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on his release from a Scottish jail. It was eventually seized by opposition fighters and put on display at Tripoli airport.

Gaddafi purchased the plane following the lifting of sanctions against his country in 1999 allowing him to travel to meet other world leaders.

The hearing in London was told that the businesswoman delivered letters from Prince Al-Waleed to Colonel Gaddafi. It was claimed they had to be copied before the Libyan leader would deal with them.

 "The Prince would give me letters for the President which I was responsible for hand delivering," Mr Justice Peter Smith heard in a written witness statement.

"However for security reasons, the President would not handle the ink on original correspondence."

Mrs Sharab, 52, claims Prince Al-Waleed agreed to pay the commission in 2005 following a meeting in the Colonel's tent in Libya.

She alleges she was "extensively involved" in the £76m deal - which was said to have been originally hatched in a restaurant in London's West End with the Prince's representative  - and to have made "numerous visits" to the country to bring it about. 

On the final trip she was detained and only released following the end of the uprising which resulted in Gaddafi's death.

Mrs Sharab says the prince agreed to pay her £1.2m. However, she would receive the difference if the final sale price exceeded £70m, she claims.

Prince Al-Waleed, a nephew of King Fahd who was received by David Cameron at Downing Street earlier this year, is one of the world's richest men with an estimated fortune of more than £12bn.

The 58-year-old is expected to become the first member of the Saudi royal family to be cross examined by a British QC when he gives evidence at the hearing next week. His lawyers fought against holding the case in London eventually appealing unsuccessfully to the House of Lords.

The Prince is behind plans to build the world's tallest building - a tower a mile high. He told Reuters this month that he was inviting leaders of global cities including Shanghai, Moscow, New York and London to make offers. Last month the Prince said he was suing Forbes magazine after he claimed it underestimated his wealth.

As well as owning The Savoy the Prince also has stakes in the Hotel George V in Paris, Canary Wharf and News International.