Saudi embassy
The Saudi Embassy in London. Reuters

A Saudi envoy can be sued on claims of domestic slavery after the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that he cannot hide behind diplomatic immunity.

In a decision that will be considered a major victory for the campaign against domestic slavery, Jarallah al-Malki will be sued over claims that he and his wife made Cherrylyn Reyes work 17 hours a day.

Reyes said that her passport was confiscated and was refused contact with her family in her native Philippines, leading her to flee the residence after three months.

She had been told by an employment tribunal that her claims for harassment would not hold up because of al-Malki's diplomatic immunity.

However the court ruled on Wednesday (18 October) that his immunity expired when he left the UK in 2014.

Reyes said, according to the London Evening Standard: "I know there are lots of other domestic workers who have suffered like me, and I'm delighted they will be able to use this case to get redress and not wait as long as I have."

Chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, Anthony Steen said: "This is a landmark case which allows for trafficked victims to access justice no matter what the status of the employer," the Standard reported.

The Supreme Court judge, Lord Wilson, described it as "an apparent serious case of domestic servitude in our capital city", although the court was not making any judgement on the allegations, which the al-Malkis deny.