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Jonathan Taylor: Oil whistleblower arrives home from Croatia

image copyrightJonathan Taylor

An oil industry whistleblower who was trapped in Croatia for a year has returned home after the country’s justice minister overturned a decision to extradite him to Monaco.

Jonathan Taylor, from Southampton, was arrested last July on an Interpol red licence issued by Monaco, on bribery and corruption charges.

He had exposed bribery at his old employer, Dutch oil firm SBM Offshore.

Arriving back in the UK, the lawyer said he still had “many questions”.

“After 353 days away, I obviously have an enormous amount of readjusting to do,” Mr Taylor told the BBC.

“Just as my life was turned inside out and upside down upon my arrest at the airport in Dubrovnik on 30 July last year, I now feel equally upside down again, even though I’ve returned home.”

image copyrightEPA

Mr Taylor had provided evidence in 2012 about bribes being offered in return for lucrative contracts at SBM Offshore.

The firm previously said it had not influenced the extradition request.

However, Mr Taylor believes what he has experienced over the past 12 months “was nothing short of a form of retaliation”.

His arrest in Dubrovnik, when he arrived for a family holiday, came after the authorities in Monaco sought to extradite him for questioning about claims he demanded money to keep quiet.

Mr Taylor, who has not been charged with any offence, denies the claims.

In May, Croatia’s supreme court upheld a ruling to extradite him.

However, Croatian Minister of Justice Ivan Malenica overturned the decision earlier this month after “carefully considering all relevant circumstances of the case”.

While the experience has “left its mark”, Mr Taylor insisted: “I will never be bullied into submission or intimidated by the corrupt and those that shamefully seek revenge on their behalf.

“I remain resolute, if a little battered, but nothing I shall not overcome.”

He also claimed “the world remains underprepared for whistleblowers”.

“If nothing else comes of my plight, I would be delighted if lawmakers the world over would pass robust and effective laws ensuring the protection of whistleblowers so that no-one else has to suffer what I have for doing the right thing,” he added.

Mr Taylor’s UK lawyer, Toby Cadman, said: “This has caused irreparable damage to him personally, professionally and financially.

“But the impact it will have on whistleblowers and investigative journalists and their ability or their willingness to come forward is equally significant.”

Mr Taylor’s experience has demonstrated “there are insufficient protections and support mechanisms for whistleblowers”, he added.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement: “We are pleased Mr Taylor has been reunited with his family in the UK.”

It said it had been assisting from the time of his arrest in Dubrovnik in July 2020 until his return to the UK, prioritising his health and welfare.

The BBC has contacted SBM Offshore and the Monaco authorities for comment.

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