Neil Sheldon QC is acting on behalf of the Met Police in an unusual judicial review regarding a stolen Qur’an which was listed for auction at Christies (London) in 2017.
A 16th century Qur’an was stolen from its original owner at gunpoint in Istanbul in 2015. Some of the robbers were apprehended but the book was not recovered. Turkish authorities later contacted Christies after the original owner spotted what he considered to be the stolen Qur’an in their Indian and Islamic art sale in 2017. The auction house withdrew it from the sale and the private vendor requested the book be returned to him. Instead, the Met Police seized the artefact after obtaining a search warrant at the request of the Turkish authorities.
The private vendor brought a judicial review claim challenging the lawfulness of the search warrant claiming that the court had been misled. The claim was dismissed by the Divisional Court on the basis that none of the errors alleged by the claimant were material, that there were strong grounds to believe that this was indeed the stolen Qur’an, and that the private vendor’s claim to be the legal owner was to be viewed with “considerable skepticism”.