Stephenson takes legal fight to U.K.

Lawsuit addresses dismissal from Dubai fest

LONDON — Former Dubai Film Festival chief Neil Stephenson is taking his legal fight against current Dubai chairman Abdulhamid Juma to the U.K. courts.

Stephenson filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit last December against Juma and managing director Shavani Pandya over the manner of his dismissal in February 2007; he has now launched a legal action in the U.K. High Court of Justice after withdrawing his earlier lawsuit, which had been lodged in California, after issues of jurisdiction.

Stephenson is accusing Juma and Pandya of falsely accusing him of being him an “Arab-hater” and “racist.”

Stephenson was the Dubai fest chief from its inaugural edition in 2004 through 2006. The manner of his dismissal in February last year – it was mentioned in the last sentence of a fest press release – added fuel to suspicions of a falling out between Stephenson and his former colleagues.

“This dispute has regrettably gone on for the last 2 years now and should have been settled a long time ago,” said Stephenson. “My lawyers and I have reached out repeatedly to Mr. Juma in order to reach an honorable settlement of the matter, but all our fair-minded overtures have been rejected.”

Dubai fest officials declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Variety.

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