When Sandy Mitchell was arrested for his alleged involvement in two bombings in Saudi Arabia in December 2000, he thought it was a case of mistaken identity and that he would soon be released. Instead, he spent nearly three years in jail, where he was repeatedly tortured before being forced to sign a confession and admit his guilt on Saudi television.
Throughout his incarceration the Saudi authorities knew that the attacks had been committed by al-Qaeda militants. Yet they kept Mitchell in jail and refused him access to a lawyer for a year. By this time he had been sentenced to death but he was eventually released before the penalty could be imposed.
Saudi Babylon is the story of a shocking miscarriage of justice. But it also reveals an even more disturbing truth: how the British government, mindful of multi-billion-pound arms sales to Saudi Arabia, virtually abandoned Mitchell by adopting a softly-softly diplomatic approach to the corrupt Saudi royal family.
Based on diaries and records of meetings with ministers and officials, this is a powerful exposé of how the British government acts when one of its citizens is illegally imprisoned and tortured by a regime with which it does business.