David Haigh came on-board at Leeds United as MD when his employers, GFH Capital bought the club from Ken Bates.
He has recently returned from a near-two year incarceration in a Dubai ‘jail’ where he served a sentence on charges of fraid and embezzlement, plus time for supposed cyber-slander on Twitter. Speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the ex-Leeds MD has lifted the lid on his imprisonment.
Haigh initially travelled to Dubai on what he thought was an offer of employment, only to be arrested in May 2014 and charged with an offence of issuing a cheque that bounced – a crime in the UAE. This then developed into further charges of fraud, embezzlement and financial misappropriation.
This then included being barred from accessing his own assets in August 2014 by a British High Court judge, before being eventually sentenced to two years imprisonment for ‘breach of trust’ in August 2015. Due for release, Haigh was then accused of cyber-slander on Twitter – again a crime – before this was thrown out and he was released in March 2016.
But it is the treatment that was meted out to him whilst incarcerated that is the most shocking thing about this case. Physically, David Haigh is a shell of the man who entered a temporary holding facility at the Bur Dubai police station, mentally though he is in a much worse state. At the time, for fear that it would jeopardise his legal case, comments about his treatment at the hands of police officers remained silent. However, in his first interview with the English press, it is a no-holds barred David Haigh who opens up the depths of degradation that he was subjected to – including physical beatings and torture.
On the issue of his maltreatment at the hands of his captors, Haigh said that he was treated “quite badly”, the list of ‘treatments’ proving quite shocking to read. What he faced included: physical assault, episodes of being tasered and attacked with a broom handle – all this at the hands of the guards.
One incident that Haigh goes into detail about could easily be fled under the heading of ‘torture’, such are the extremes of the actions involved. He said: “They came and got me in the middle of the night, they took me outside to the car park, then moved me into a room, and then I was quite seriously physically abused, tasered, whacked in the face, made to stand in strange positions, and told repeatedly ‘where is the money’.
Haigh then goes on to explain that he was told that he could walk free if he told them where the money was that he had ‘allegedly’ misappropriated from GFH. This was something he couldn’t do as he hadn’t taken anything from GFH, Haigh persistently denying the charges he faced and explaining that they were spurious in nature.
The former Leeds United MD plans to appeal against his 2015 conviction for diverting GFH funds into accounts he controlled by using false invoices, a charge he denied at the time and still continues to deny now. He also plans to appeal to have the freezing of his personal assets lifted.