Leeds United: Haigh protests innocence after Dubai arrest

David Haigh.
David Haigh.
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Former Leeds United managing director David Haigh has moved to protest his innocence following his arrest in Dubai on suspicion of financial irregularities.

A spokesman for Haigh said the 36-year-old was confident of being released without charge as he prepared to spend a fifth night in custody.

Haigh was detained by police in Dubai on Sunday and is expected to remain in jail for the rest of this week.

As reported by the YEP yesterday, his spokesman confirmed that Haigh had flown to the Middle East after being offered a job by Gulf Finance House, his former employer and the Bahrain bank which bought Leeds in 2012.

Haigh was arrested shortly after his arrival at GFH’s offices having been accused by the bank of financial irregularities of close to £4million.

Many of the accusations are believed to relate to GFH’s 14 months as owner of Leeds and its recent sale of the Championship club to Massimo Cellino.

A report in Gulf News quoted a lawyer from GFH as saying: “We lodged a lawsuit against the suspect for alleged embezzlement, swindling and breach of trust at Bur Dubai Police Station.

“Currently the suspect is in provisional detention and being questioned over primary charges of embezzling millions of dirhams.”

Haigh denies the claims against him and in a statement released tonight, a spokesman for him said: “David flew from London to Dubai following what he clearly understood to be the offer of a new job with GFH. He was then stunned to be arrested at GFH’s offices and to be taken into custody.

“Although he is horrified to find himself in this position, he is answering fully every allegation made against him in the knowledge that he is entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

“In co-operating fully with the Dubai authorities, for whom he has complete respect, David is clear that he has no case to answer.

“He has every confidence that the authorities will see clearly the motives which lie behind these allegations and will act accordingly in bringing no charges against him.

“In the meantime he would like to thank the many people who are supporting him.”

According to Gulf News, Haigh’s detention in Dubai has been extended to Sunday (May 25).

He was a leading figure behind GFH’s buy-out of Leeds in 2012, a deal done through the bank private equity arm GFH Capital.

Haigh became a club director shortly before that buy-out and was promoted to managing director at Elland Road in July 2013.

Haigh was also GFH Capital’s deputy chief executive but quit that role in February of this year ahead of Cellino’s takeover of Leeds.

Cellino had initially agreed to appoint Haigh as United’s chief executive but Haigh resigned and quit the club last month after his relationship with the Italian businessman broke down.