By Neil Sears
Last updated at 12:16 AM on 21st July 2009
A married Saudi Arabian princess has been given asylum because she had an illegitimate child by a British man.
She claimed that if she returned home she would face being stoned to death for adultery.
Her initial claim for asylum was rejected by Britain’s Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, because of inconsistencies in her account, and fears that she was exaggerating the dangers.
On appeal, however, the wealthy princess was given permanent leave to remain in Britain.
Last night the Home Office refused to comment on the case, saying it would not discuss an individual decision.
But the granting of asylum to a Saudi princess could have serious implications for relations between the UK and the oil-rich desert kingdom, which has proved a useful ally in the West’s war on terror.
Three years ago, during a Serious Fraud Office investigation into alleged bribes paid to senior Saudis, the Saudi government threatened to restrict the flow of intelligence it provides on terrorism.
In 1980, Saudi Arabian diplomats protested to Britain over the ITV drama-documentary Death Of A Princess – which reconstructed the death of a young royal publicly executed with her lover for adultery.
Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia was expelled and export orders cancelled.
In the latest case, the woman – who was given anonymity by the asylum tribunal – met her non-Muslim English boyfriend during a visit to London and they began a sexual relationship.
The following year, while in Saudi Arabia, she discovered she had become pregnant by her lover.
An executioner prepares to move in on a condemned prisoner in a scene from the 1980 docu-drama Death Of A Princess
According to her account, she had reason to believe her elderly husband – a member of the huge and fabulously rich Saudi royal family – was growing increasingly suspicious of her behaviour.
She claimed that in order to give birth in London in secret she came up with an excuse to visit Britain again.
The child was born in the UK and she then claimed asylum, saying that her life would be in danger if she returned to Saudi Arabia.
She said that if she went back there with her baby she could have been subject to Sharia law.
For adultery she might have faced flogging, stoning to death or beheading.
She argued that even if the Saudi legal system spared her, she could have been murdered in an ‘honour killing’ by relatives of her husband.
A Home Office source said: ‘When she first claimed asylum there were too many inconsistencies in her account of what had gone on, and she was not found to have proved she faced dire consequences.
‘It was only on appeal that she was successful.
‘We haven’t heard from her since then, unlike many asylum seekers, because she is so wealthy she doesn’t need any state support.’
The woman is understood to have had no contact from her own family or her husband’s since fleeing Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi embassy in London yesterday declined to comment.
A spokesman for the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal said it could not give any details of the princess’s asylum application.
It is believed that the Saudi government’s threat to restrict the flow of intelligence it provides on terrorism led to the Government’s halting of the inquiry. Last year, the House of Lords strongly criticised Mr Blair’s intervention.
Saudi Arabia has often been criticised for its treatment of women.
Only last week, the state’s religious police were implicated in the murder of two sisters who were killed by their brother after being arrested for socialising with men to whom they were not related.
Two years ago, a Saudi woman was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months jail after being gang-raped.
She offended society’s expectations by getting into a car with an ex-boyfriend, unchaperoned.
The woman and the ex-boyfriend were then seized by seven men and both raped.
She was only pardoned after an international outcry.