UK lawyer ‘acted for Qataris against World Cup whistleblower’

A CONSERVATIVE MP has named a London-based law firm as acting for Qatari officials involved in alleged attempts to target a whistleblower who made corruption allegations against the country’s 2022 World Cup bid.

The FIFA World Cup trophy

Damian Collins said he had been told Olswang was the firm that visited Phaedra Almajid in Washington DC in 2011 and presented her with an affidavit to recant allegations she had made against the Qatari bid.

He said the firm later sent a letter on behalf of Qatari officials accusing Ms Almajid of harassment and threatening to sue her if she continued to contact them.

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MPs were told this occurred at a time when the whistleblower was seeking a promised legal letter confirming she would not be sued in return for the affidavit.

Mr Collins said the event was one that would fall into any potential UK criminal inquiry into World Cup bidding.

He has called for the Serious Fraud Office to investigate a series of events linked to the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 competitions which fall within the UK’s jurisdiction.

Mr Collins said Fifa had “stumbled from one crisis to another” and was dogged by consistent allegations of bribery and corruption.

He added world football’s governing body was unable to shake off the perception it was a “rotten organisation” and said it now needed to be subject to the “full force of international law” rather than being left to investigate itself.

The Folkestone and Hythe MP added intelligence gathered by the England World Cup bid team on other bidders would also be within the remit of the SFO to investigate.