British woman accuses UAE minister of sexual assault, report says

Image of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan from the YouTube video HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan — Minister of Culture & Knowledge Development, UAE.
Image of Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan from the YouTube video HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan — Minister of Culture & Knowledge Development, UAE.

LONDON, Oct 19 — A British woman working on a literary festival in the United Arab Emirates, has alleged she was sexually assaulted in February by the UAE minister for tolerance, according to The Sunday Times newspaper.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, 69, who has denied any wrongdoing, is being investigated by Scotland Yard, the newspaper said in an article yesterday.

The assault allegedly happened when Hay literary festival worker Caitlin McNamara, 32, who has waived her right to anonymity, visited the minister at a private island villa on Valentine's day, the report said.

The alleged victim said the attack occurred when she accepted an invitation to meet the sheikh shortly before the opening of the inaugural Hay Festival Abu Dhabi.

In the UK, she later made a formal complaint to the Metropolitan Police who are investigating it as an allegation of rape, the report added.

Chair of the Hay Festival board, Caroline Michel, said: “What happened to our friend and colleague Caitlin McNamara in Abu Dhabi last February was an appalling violation and a hideous abuse of trust and position.

“Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan made a mockery of his ministerial responsibilities and tragically undermined his government’s attempt to work with Hay Festival to promote free speech and female empowerment,” The Sunday Times report quoted her as saying in a statement.

London libel lawyers Schillings told The Sunday Times: “Our client is surprised and saddened by this allegation, which arrives eight months after the alleged incident and via a national newspaper. The account is denied.”

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that a woman contacted officers in July to report an allegation of rape.

“An initial statement has been taken from the woman,” it said. — AFP

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