Matthew Hedges’ Quest for Justice: A Personal Victory and a Call for Change

Matthew Hedges’ Quest for Justice: A Personal Victory and a Call for Change

Matthew Hedges, following the conclusion of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) investigation, sees it as a “personal victory,” acknowledging the “pain and abuse” he endured during his detention.


However, he believes that there are still crucial steps the department must take to prevent others from going through a similar ordeal.

Detained in Abu Dhabi:

Mr. Hedges’ nightmarish journey began when he was detained in Abu Dhabi between May and November 2018.

Accused of working for MI6, he was arrested at Dubai airport while conducting research for his PhD.

Inhumane Treatment:

During his detention, Mr. Hedges faced appalling conditions, including being subjected to up to 15 hours of daily interrogation, forced to wear ankle cuffs, and suffering from sleepless nights.


His ordeal led to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and he became reliant on drugs administered to him in jail.

Complaint to PHSO:

Upon his release, Mr. Hedges filed a complaint with the PHSO, alleging that the Foreign Office had failed to recognize the mistreatment he endured during his detention.

PHSO Investigation and Findings:

The PHSO, an independent service that addresses complaints against UK Government departments, found that the UK had not followed its own guidelines in identifying potential torture and mistreatment of British nationals.

Embassy staff had observed signs such as Mr. Hedges’ trembling voice, avoidance of eye contact, and mentions of anxiety attacks, which should have prompted intervention, even without consent.

PHSO Recommendations:

Based on its investigation, the PHSO recommended that the Foreign Office issue a written apology to Mr. Hedges and provide a compensation payment of £1,500 within a month of the final report.


Seeking Healing and Change:

Mr. Hedges emphasized that this is just the first step toward healing for him.

While he wouldn’t reject financial compensation, he stressed the utmost importance of receiving a formal apology from the Foreign Office and seeing them implement changes to prevent such experiences for others in the future.

The British Government’s Failure:

PHSO chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath condemned the British Government’s failure to protect its citizen.

She acknowledged the profound impact of the government’s negligence on Mr. Hedges’ life and urged the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to use all its powers to safeguard British citizens abroad.


Matthew Hedges’ case represents a personal victory in his quest for justice, but it also exposes the need for systemic changes to ensure the protection of British nationals detained overseas.


The PHSO’s investigation sheds light on the failures of the UK government, urging them to take responsibility and prevent such nightmarish experiences from happening to others in the future.

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