An alleged ‘backroom deal’ between Tony Blair’s Labour government and the billionaire sheikh accused of kidnapping his daughter on British soil must be investigated, a senior Tory told MailOnline today.
Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, a friend of the Queen, ordered henchmen to snatch Princess Shamsa in Cambridge in 2000 but a criminal inquiry was dropped as an alleged diplomatic favour, the UK’s top family judge was told.
The High Court ruled yesterday that Sheikh al-Maktoum masterminded the raid and Sir Andrew McFarlane said his behaviour, on the balance of probabilities, runs ‘contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law and internationally accepted human rights norms’.
Shamsa said armed bodyguards grabbed her, injected her with sedatives and rendered her from her father’s Newmarket mansion to France by helicopter and then to Dubai where she was tortured. She has not been seen in public in the 20 years since.
Cambridgeshire Police launched a criminal probe but it was allegedly shut down amid ‘interference’ by the Foreign Office – as a diplomatic favour to one of the UK’s best allies.
It is alleged the then foreign secretary Robin Cook, who died in 2005, effectively shut down a serious criminal inquiry into a helpless girl’s kidnapping.
There are growing calls for the Government to investigate and today Tory MP and party vice-chairman Alec Shelbrooke told MailOnline: ‘Once again backroom deals done by the previous Labour government – like the completely unbalanced extradition treaty with America that has now come back to bite us – are coming to light.’ Mr Shelbrooke said there should be a probe into what had gone on at the Foreign Office because ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein and Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum attend Derby day at Epsom in 2017 – extraordinary details about their family life have emerged in a High Court ruling published yesterday
The High Court said billionaire Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – a friend of the Queen – had Princess Shamsa (pictured) abducted from Cambridge after she went on the run in 2000
Now it is alleged the then foreign secretary Robin Cook, who died in 2005, effectively shut down a serious criminal inquiry into a helpless girl’s kidnapping. Tory MP and party vice-chairman Alec Shelbrooke (right) told MailOnline that the alleged ‘backroom deal’ must be probed
Then PM Gordon Brown greets Sheikh Mohammad in Downing Street in 2007 – Now for the first time, an alleged kidnap cover-up under Tony Blair’s government of 2000 can be reported.
Princess, aged 11, was being lined up for forced marriage to notorious crown prince
Princess Haya with her daughter Jalila (with face obscured), at Epsom racecourse in June 2018
A princess aged 11 was being lined up for a forced marriage to the notorious crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, the court heard.
Known as MBS in the desert kingdom, Bin Salman allegedly ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
And in January of this year, he was accused of hacking the phone of the world’s richest man, Amazon owner Jeff Bezos.
Princess Jalila’s’s father Sheikh Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, allegedly discussed arrangements to force her into an arranged marriage with Bin Salman in February 2019, according to her mother Princess Haya, who said it was a key reason she fled to the UK with both of her children.
Bin Salman, 34, who already has one wife, was at the centre of international outrage after he was blamed for the horrific killing of regime critic Mr Khashoggi, who was butchered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.
Sheikh Maktoum strenuously denied the claims. His QC, Alex Verdan, told the court: ‘None of his children have forced marriages or were betrothed at this age. There has never been such a plan, a person to whom Jalila is betrothed.
‘There have been no forced marriages. That is not what this father does with his daughters – there are about 13 of them – at this age.’
Yesterday Cambridgeshire Constabulary said: ‘An investigation into the alleged abduction of Shamsa Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2000 was carried out by Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 2001. With the evidence that was available to us this was insufficient to take any further action. A review took place in 2017 and it was again concluded there was insufficient evidence to take any further action. This is no longer an active investigation and we are not in contact with the victim.’
In an astonishing ruling, Sheikh Maktoum, one of the world’s richest men, is today also exposed as having waged a campaign of ‘fear and intimidation’ against his youngest wife, Princess Haya, who fled to Britain last year fearing that he would kill her.
Public officials are now facing pressure to bring the sheikh to justice, after a judge found that he orchestrated the abduction.
Following the judge’s ruling, Shami Chakrabarti, Labour shadow attorney general, said: ‘This is clearly a shocking judgment. Both Priti Patel and Dominic Raab must urgently investigate why a criminal inquiry into a kidnap in Cambridge appears to have been impeded.’
Now for the first time, the alleged kidnap cover-up under Tony Blair’s government of 2000 can be reported.
Shamsa had begged British detectives to save her, but they were forced to drop the case.
The Director of Public Prosecutions at the time has denied any suggestion that the CPS had leant on a Cambridgeshire policeman to stop them investigating the abduction of the billionaire ruler of Dubai’s daughter.
DCI David Beck, who led the force’s investigation into Shamsa her disappearance, claimed he sought permission from the CPS to travel to Dubai and interview witnesses – but his request was refused.
However, speaking at his home in Barnes today, Sir David Calvert-Smith – the Director of Public Prosecutions from 1998 to 2003 – said the CPS would have ‘no such power’ to refuse DCI Beck’s request – and denied any knowledge of the case.
Questioned about the princess’ disappearance, he said: ‘All I know is he’s a racehorse trainer or something. That’s all I know about him.’
When informed that the case unfolded while he was leading the CPS, Sir David replied: ‘That’s the first I’ve ever heard of that, I’m sorry.
‘[The accusations from DCI Beck] may or not be true, but it certainly wasn’t the Director of Public Prosecutions who leant on him. I’ve never heard of the case until you told me about it.
‘If he wanted to go to Dubai to interview witnesses that’s up to him that’s not up to the CPS. The CPS has no power to refuse a request from police to interview a witness. I think he may be talking rubbish.
‘If the police want to interview a witness in this country – or anywhere else – they go and do it.
‘They then send the statement to us. Certainly the CPS can’t ban the police from taking statements. I think that may well be a misunderstanding, perhaps’.
In an explosive ruling following a 10-month High Court child custody battle between the sheikh and Princess Haya, it can be revealed:
- The court found the sheikh responsible for kidnapping Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000.
- He also sent commandos to abduct another runaway daughter, Princess Latifa, during her escape bid in 2018, the court found.
- Both princesses were locked in a Dubai palace and remain imprisoned to this day.
- Oxford-educated Princess Haya fled with their two young children to London after discovering the truth about Shamsa and Latifa.
- She feared her daughter Princess Jalila was being lined up for a forced marriage aged 11 to the notorious Saudi crown prince accused of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- Sheikh Maktoum also discovered his wife was having an affair with her British bodyguard.
The British lawyer for Princess Latifa, David Haigh told the Guardian he would be submitting the judgment to the United Nations’ working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.
‘We are delighted with the judgment,’ he said. ‘It’s vindication for everything we have been saying, vindication for Shamsa, Latifa and Haya.’
Sheikh Maktoum is pictured shaking hands with the Queen at Ascot racecourse in June 2016 alongside his ex-wife Princess Haya Bint Al-Hussein
Princess Haya is pictured at the Court of Appeal with Baroness Fiona Shackleton, February 28
First the High Court, then the Appeal Court and then the Supreme Court all threw out his bid for secrecy, ruling the world should know what Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the family division of the High Court, had concluded about his ‘criminal’ behaviour
Could the Sheikh be arrested in Britain after bombshell judgment?
Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum is free to travel into the UK despite yesterday’s humbling judgment.
Family Court chief Sir Andrew McFarlane said his behaviour, on the balance of probabilities, runs ‘contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law and internationally accepted human rights norms’.
But his ruling has no weight in the criminal courts.
And the Sheikh would not be arrested over the alleged abduction of Princess Shamsa because he has never technically a suspect.
As a head of state he could also claim diplomatic immunity from a prosecution – but Cambridgeshire Police has said today there is no ongoing investigation.
A spokesman said: ‘An investigation into the alleged abduction of Shamsa Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2000 was carried out by Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 2001. With the evidence that was available to us this was insufficient to take any further action. A review took place in 2017 and it was again concluded there was insufficient evidence to take any further action. This is no longer an active investigation and we are not in contact with the victim.’
Oxford-educated Princess Haya mounted her own escape from Dubai after discovering the truth about Shamsa and Latifa.
Haigh added that he and Latifa’s close friend Tiina Jauhiainen were interviewed by Cambridge police in late 2019.
He said: ‘It is now clear to see why Sheikh Mohammed did not want these judgments to be made available to the world. They show him as someone unfit to be in charge of children, let alone a state that is an ally of the UK.’
Today’s bombshell revelations come after Sheikh Maktoum lost a desperate bid to keep the case secret. He hired eight top British QCs at enormous cost but they have not been able to stop his humiliation.
First the High Court, then the Appeal Court and then the Supreme Court all threw out his bid for secrecy, ruling the world should know what Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the family division of the High Court, had concluded about his ‘criminal’ behaviour.
In a victory for open justice, it can be revealed that the Gulf ruler’s own ex-wife fought against him for the public’s right to know the ‘evil’ secrets of the Dubai royal family.
A million Britons visit the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is part, each year. The 70-year-old sheikh owns Godolphin stables, a favourite of the Queen, in Newmarket, Suffolk. He and Princess Haya, 45, his sixth and youngest wife, are regulars at Royal Ascot.
Last April, Princess Haya fled in their private Boeing 737 to Britain with their children, Princess Jalila, 12, and Prince Zayed, eight. They are now holed up in an £85million mansion in central London.
The sheikh – who is worth £14billion – launched a High Court case to demand the ‘summary return’ of his son and daughter, but it has backfired spectacularly, with him losing his children and his wife, and his standing as an international statesman.
Oxford-educated Princess Haya mounted her own escape from Dubai after discovering the truth about Shamsa and Latifa
Now for the first time, the alleged kidnap cover-up under Tony Blair’s government of 2000 can be reported
Sir Andrew heard evidence from former Cambridgeshire Detective Chief Inspector David Beck who investigated Shamsa’s abduction and had requested official permission to visit Dubai to interview her.
Charles Geekie, a QC for Princess Haya, told the High Court there was ‘interference’ in the police inquiry and ‘a direct interest being expressed by the foreign secretary’.
The Foreign Office has since admitted it ‘does hold relevant information’ on the case, but claimed it ‘would be likely to prejudice relations between the UK and other states if it was disclosed’.
In his ruling, Sir Andrew said: ‘The allegations that the father ordered and orchestrated the kidnap and rendition to Dubai of his daughters Shamsa and Latifa are of a very high order of seriousness. I have found he continues to maintain a regime whereby both of these young women are deprived of their liberty.’
Sir Andrew said Haya wanted him to conclude Dubai had ‘made representations’ to the Foreign Office ‘to bring an end to the investigation’ but it was not possible to prove this.
The sheikh did not appear or call any witnesses during the court case, and has not appealed against the findings.
Last night he said: ‘This case concerns highly personal and private matters relating to our children. The appeal was made to protect the best interests and welfare of the children. The outcome does not protect my children from media attention in the way that other children in family proceedings in the UK are protected. As a head of government, I was not able to participate in the court’s fact-finding process. This has resulted in the release of a ”fact-finding” judgment which inevitably only tells one side.’
Sheikh Maktoum’s UK property empire that is worth more than £100m alone: From the £75m Surrey estate the billionaire uses to escape Dubai’s summer heat to the 63,000-acre Highland retreat with three helipads
The billionaire ruler of Dubai, is one of the world’s richest men and boasts a multi-million pound property portfolio, with interests, assets and ventures all over the UK.
Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum’s lavish collection of homes include a £75m Surrey estate, a historic Suffolk mansion and a sprawling Highland retreat with 63,000-acres of land.
A friend of the Queen and a close UK ally, his collection of assets and country houses stand testament to his deep ties with the country.
He has also ploughed his extreme wealth into construction projects and sports, including one of the world’s most successful thoroughbred horse racing stables, Godolphin, based near in Newmarket, Suffolk.
He bought Longcross estate on green belt land in Surrey in the 90s, as a place to escape the stifling summer heat in the Gulf.
Sheikh Mohammed later snapped up the historic Dalham Hall in 2009 for £45m, to serve as a stud farm near to the famous Newmarket race course.
His 63,000-acre Highland estate in Wester Ross was bought for £2million, 20 years ago.It boasts an incredible 58 bedrooms, a triple helipad and a 16-bedroom luxury hunting lodge.
His property portfolio has been mired in planning disputes with his Surrey mansion at the centre of claims portable cabins had been installed without permission to house his servants, and his Scottish estate was embroiled in a row over the construction of a hunting lodge.
In other business interests, the airline Emirates, which he launched, has a shirt sponsorship deal with Arsenal, worth £200million over four years – and has naming rights to their north London stadium.
His company DP World last year acquired P&O Ferries for £322million, and in Essex he established the London Gateway. Built for £1.5billion, the deep water port on the Thames handles millions of shipping containers every year.
Yesterday the sheikh was found by the High Court to have waged a campaign of ‘fear and intimidation’ against his youngest wife, Princess Hay and also ‘orchestrated’ the abduction of his two of his adult daughters, currently being held captive in Dubai.
Here we look at the ruler’s UK property portfolio after the damning High Court judgement:
£75m Surrey estate… complete with ‘portable cabins to house the servants’
The historic Longcross estate, near Chobham in Surrey, was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed in the 1990s as a place to escape the stifling summer heat in the Gulf.
It was at the centre of a planning row in May 2019 over claims the billionaire had, without planning permission, installed portable cabins on its grounds to house his servants.
A letter to planning officials at Runnymede Borough Council claimed ‘considerable development’ had taken place at the estate, which is estimated to be worth £75m.
The historic Longcross estate, near Chobham in Surrey, was purchased by Sheikh Mohammed in the 1990s as a place to escape the stifling summer heat in the Gulf
An aerial view of the site, where neighbours have repeatedly complained of excessive development amid a series of planning rows
It contained photographs of at least eight portable buildings which were said to have been erected more than a year ago, as well as four pagoda-style marquees set up ‘very recently’.
Retrospective planning applications were submitted to Runnymede Borough Council, but neighbours accused the Sheikh of showing ‘cynical disregard’ for planning laws, damaging the environment and putting wildlife at risk.
The ruler of Dubai’s land is covered by an Article 4 Declaration, meaning even minor changes must receive permission from the council.
As with all of Sheikh Mohammed’s properties, security at the estate is very tight, with perimeter guards, CCTV and an inner security fence.
It was at the centre of a planning row in 2019 over claims the billionaire had, without planning permission, installed portable cabins (pictured) on its grounds to house his servants
Fencing that has been put up by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum around his estate in Surrey
He was also accused of showing ‘cynical disregard’ for planning laws by erecting the 6ft 6in-high spiked metal fence without planning permission.
Locals had said the fence was totally inappropriate for the area and blocked vital wildlife corridors between Chobham Common and the previously open estate.
But he was later granted retrospective approval by Runnymede Council for the £75million security barrier condition openings are made every 90ft to allow wildlife to pass through.
Former Suffolk home of diamond magnate Cecil Rhodes that now produce’s the Sheikh’s thoroughbred horses
Sheikh Mohammed snapped up the historic Dalham Hall in 2009 for £45m, to serve as a stud farm near to Newmarket race course.
It was previously owned by diamond magnate and colonial adventurer Cecil Rhodes, who bought it after reading in the game book that 1,700 partridges had been shot there during the first four days of the 1901 season – but he died before he could move in.
The grade II-listed house is eight miles west of Bury St Edmunds and comes complete with 3,300-acres of land.
Construction of the house was started in the early 18-century by Bishop of Ely Simon Patrick, before it was converted into a stud farm in 1928.
During his studies as a young man in nearby Cambridge Sheikh Mohammed attended his first race meeting at Newmarket where he watched Royal Palace win the 2,000 Guineas in May, 1967.
Ten years later, Sheikh Mohammed’s own involvement with international racing began when his horse won in Brighton in June, 1977.
In 1992, Godolphin, one of the world’s most successful thoroughbred horse racing stables, was founded. It currently owns two large facilities in Suffolk and produces some of the most sought-after stallions in the sport.
It has other facilities the UAE, the Republic of Ireland, Australia, Japan and the US – and has won 6,000 races across the world, including 315 prestigious Group One races.
Sheikh Mohammed frequently attends major horseracing events such as Royal Ascot, where he has been pictured with Queen Elizabeth II.
Sheikh Mohammed snapped up the historic Dalham Hall in 2009 for £45m, to serve as a stud farm near to Newmarket race course
Sprawling 63,000-acre Highland estate with three helipads at the centre of ANOTHER planning row over a new laundry
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s 63,000-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands boasts a 14-bedroom holiday mansion and a triple helipad.
But that wasn’t enough for the Dubai ruler, who has been at the centre of yet another planning row over his desire to build a hunting lodge and a laundry to clean his guests’ clothes after they’ve been on shoots.
A source said of the laundry application: ‘It’s important to have a laundry here to ensure that garments are pressed and prepared clothes to the highest standard.
‘The Sheikh is extremely proud of the estate and this is an essential part of the ongoing expansion and ensure that the Sheikh and family ensure their high presentation standards. The family certainly don’t want to have dirty garments.’
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s 63,000-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands boasts a 14-bedroom holiday mansion and a triple helipad
His estate, which is the size of 31,500 football pitches, has a 16-bedroom luxury hunting lodge complete with a swimming pool and gym. The Sheikh purchased the site roughly 20 years ago for £2million.
He also recently won planning permission for 28 more bedrooms at the Inverinate retreat – bringing the total to 58.
In October, neighbours accused the billionaire of using his royal status to push through the controversial plans for a second hunting lodge on the estate.
Thirty residents claimed it would destroy their local community and the beauty of the area.
He was then force to downsize his plans for the fourth time, with planners yet to make a final decision.
A dramatic escape, an affair with a bodyguard and a £5.2m battle royal: How British-schooled Olympic horsewoman Haya bint al-Hussein took on her potentate husband Sheikh al-Maktoum after fleeing to the UK
It was a cloudless evening in April last year when a luxury private jet glided in to land at Farnborough airport near London.
Her Royal Highness Haya bint al-Hussein stepped off the opulently-appointed Boeing 737 – and became the third princess to flee one of the world’s richest and most powerful families.
And so far Princess Haya, the glamorous 45-year-old Oxford-educated youngest wife of the ruler of Dubai, is the only one to have successfully escaped.
Disembarking into the crisp British air after the seven-hour flight from Dubai, she kept her two young children close.
Princess Haya of Jordan. The sheikh and Haya had long been a fixture in British high society and are independently both friends of the Queen
Her Royal Highness Haya bint al-Hussein, the glamorous 45-year-old Oxford-educated youngest wife of the ruler of Dubai, is the third princess to flee one of the world’s richest and most powerful families
By car, they were whisked into central London where, shortly before midnight, they swept through the black iron gates of an £85million mansion in central London which she had bought in February 2018 without her husband.
The daughter of Jordan’s late King Hussein, Princess Haya was quite unlike any of Sheikh al-Maktoum’s five other wives.
Her mother, Queen Alia of Jordan, died in a helicopter crash when she was two, and she was sent to England to board at £30,000-a-year Bryanston.
She went up to Oxford to study philosophy, politics and economics at St Hilda’s College, where she met ‘open-minded people who were prepared to debate anything’.
The princess competed in showjumping at the 2000 Olympics for her country and has been a goodwill ambassador for the UN world food programme.
The sheikh now has to suffer details being made public of his young wife’s extramarital affair with her British bodyguard, former infantry soldier Russell Flowers (circled)
She also had a fun side, confessing to a penchant for ‘raunchy’ Jilly Cooper novels and mixing a love of Chanel with high street clothes.
Last year the sheikh – unaware his wife was fleeing him in fear of her life – had been waiting for her and their children at his sprawling estate in Newmarket, Suffolk, one of several enormous homes the 70-year-old monarch owns in the UK. They never turned up.
Russell Flowers at Royal Ascot in June 2018
The sheikh and Haya had long been a fixture in British high society and are independently both friends of the Queen.
His Godolphin stables at Newmarket are one of the world’s most successful racing organisations, and she is a racehorse owner in her own right.
It was only hours before the sheikh twigged that his young wife – once the ‘liberal face of the monarchy’ in Dubai but who had drifted into an affair with her British bodyguard – had left him.
Worse, from his perspective, she had taken their daughter Princess Jalila, then 11, and son Prince Zayed, then seven.
Ensconced behind the walls of their bullet-proof London mansion, Princess Haya received a cryptic message from one of her husband’s associates about a wife being ‘slaughtered in anger’.
It was part of a sinister ‘campaign of fear and intimidation’ the sheikh had been waging against his young wife. The couple had ‘not enjoyed an intimate relationship with each other for a significant period of time’, according to yesterday’s judgment, but it was Haya’s discovering the truth about her husband’s ‘torture’ of his two older daughters, Shamsa and Latifa, that split them apart.
It was Haya’s discovering the truth about her husband’s ‘torture’ of his two older daughters, Shamsa (pictured) and Latifa, that split them apart
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, June 16, 2016 in Ascot
Her husband – who once told her ‘nothing happens here if I don’t know or command it’ – did not welcome her interest in the princesses, she said. Twice she found a gun on her bed which she took as a death threat.
In early February last year, there was a chilling telephone conversation with the sheikh in which he cruelly suggested Zayed was ‘a desert boy – in a few months we will take him from you, you will see’.
Then in March, he told his youngest children: ‘We don’t need your mum any more, do we?’ The children replied: ‘Yes we do’, the court ruling revealed. Sheikh Maktoum responded: ‘No, we don’t need her’.
On March 11, a helicopter landed on Haya’s lawn, and one of the security guards told Zayed: ‘Bubba is angry with Momma. He is going to send her to the jail’. The princess said her young son clung to her leg with terror. It was a ‘warning’, the court heard.
Princess Haya’s husband – who once told her ‘nothing happens here if I don’t know or command it’ – did not welcome her interest in the princesses, she said, one of whom was Latifa (pictured)
On April 15, in ‘utter terror’, Haya took her children and fled to the UK in fear of her life.
Today a team of smartly-dressed bodyguards wearing earpieces accompany her and the children everywhere, on the infrequent occasions they dare leave the safety of their mansion.
One of the former British police chiefs responsible for her protection was himself threatened by a representative of the ruler of Dubai in London.
The High Court ruling says that, despite his significant experience, the officer was ‘seriously troubled and concerned about the threats’. In public, nothing was said about the seismic rupture between two of the most powerful ruling dynasties in the Middle East and the ramifications for diplomatic relations within the region and between Britain and the United Arab Emirates.
Less than a month after her midnight flit, the fugitive princess was meeting the Queen at Windsor Castle. A month after that, in June, it was the sheikh’s turn to join Her Majesty, at Royal Ascot.
But behind the scenes, a menacing domestic drama was unfolding as the sheikh – trained at Sandhurst-precursor Mons Officer Cadet School – sent an army of top-flight British lawyers to the Royal Courts of Justice in London to demand the ‘summary return’ of his children. The millionaire princess recruited her own fearsome legal squad.
The lifting of the veil of secrecy shrouding the case means the details of the extraordinary marital feud have burst into the open.
Just as humiliatingly for the sheikh, he also now has to suffer details being made public of his young wife’s extramarital affair with her British bodyguard, former infantry soldier Russell Flowers.
The relationship began at some stage in 2017/18. Matters did not come to a head until early 2019 when Haya claims her husband phoned her and said: ‘I have received bad news about you. I have heard that you are sitting in the palace with the British security (a reference to the bodyguard). I am starting to doubt you.’
The sheikh and Haya had long been a fixture in British high society and are independently both friends of the Queen. Pictured: The sheikh and Haya at Ascot in 2012
Sir Andrew said in his ruling: ‘The effect of this call on the mother (Haya) was chilling. She says, ‘I was terrified’.’
After she fled to Britain in May that year she claimed her husband sent her a message saying: ‘You and the children will never be safe in England.’
Haya asked the High Court for, and was granted, a ‘non-molestation order’ – a law designed to help victims of domestic violence.
The couple’s unprecedented London court clash cost £5.2million, it is estimated.
The sheikh hired Lady Helen Ward, who handled Guy Ritchie’s split from Madonna. On Princess Haya’s side was Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, known as the ‘Steel Magnolia’, who represented the Prince of Wales in his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales.
As the case unfolded, Haya attended every hearing, flanked by flamboyantly-dressed Baroness Shackleton, and did not flinch when she climbed into the witness box to swear her oath on the Koran.
Even before his estranged wife took the stand, the sheikh was desperately looking for a way out. He had started the High Court case, but had rapidly lost control of it.
His children were formally made wards of the court, meaning all significant decisions in their lives were now in the hands of the judge.
He was apparently aghast at the prospect of being dragged into the court. As with most family court hearings, the judge wanted the father to give evidence in person.
Under no circumstances, the message came back loud and clear, was this Arab statesman going to subject himself to such a spectacle.
With reverse gears crunching, the sheikh tried to pull out of the case. It could not be reported at the time, but he completely abandoned his demand for the ‘summary return’ of his children.
Yet still the case went on, with Sir Andrew refusing his permission to withdraw and making clear he still had to make ‘findings of fact’ in order to inform future decisions about the children’s welfare.
During the ensuing ‘fact-finding’ hearing, Haya’s claims went uncontested because the sheikh’s entire legal team walked out of court.
Eventually the case would backfire on the sheikh spectacularly, leading him to lose his children, his wife – and his standing as an international statesman.
How ‘£1m’ prizefighter QC fought for Dubai ruler against team led by Prince Charles’s divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton in ‘£5.2m’ courtroom battle royale
The ruler of Dubai hired ‘prizefighter’ top QC Lord Pannick for a bumper £1million, the Daily Mail understands.
The astonishing amount for Lord Pannick QC, one of the best lawyers in Britain, was agreed when he was recruited by the ruler to revive his case.
He is one of eight QCs hired by the billionaire Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s, along with five junior barristers and large teams of solicitors from two firms.
The legal costs for all sides in the case – which has involved some 17 QCs – is estimated to be £5.2million.
Lord Pannick, described in a profile in The Times as a ‘prizefighting legal titan’ successfully represented businesswoman Gina Miller in her Supreme Court challenge last year about the government’s prolonged prorogation of parliament.
David Pannick QC arrives at the Supreme Court in central London, on the second day of the hearing into the decision by the government to prorogue parliament on September 18, 2019. He is one of eight QCs hired by the billionaire sheikh, along with five junior barristers and large teams of solicitors from two firms
When asked to comment on claims that he was receiving a £1million fee, Lord Pannick said to the Mail: ‘I never comment on my fees – whether what you have said is accurate or inaccurate.’
On the other side of the courtroom, Princess Haya, the Sheikh’s ex-wife and opponent, headed her team with Charles Geekie QC, a leading family law silk, with a focus on matters involving children.
According to the Legal 500, a directory of barristers in the UK, Mr Geekie is ‘renowned for his handling of extremely complex and sensitive children matters.’
‘[He] routinely engages in cases relating to sexual, emotional and physical abuse,’ the review adds.
Instructing Mr Geekie was Princess Haya’s solicitor, Baroness Fiona Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles in his 1996 divorce of Princess Diana.
Baroness Shackleton’s fees for divorce cases have been reported at over £500 per hour.
Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, the wife of Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and her lawyer Baroness Fiona Shackleton arrive at the High Court in London, Britain at the end of February
In addition to the royal divorce, Baroness Shackleton represented Sir Paul McCartney in his split from Heather Mills in 2008, where legal bills exceeded £100,000.
One of Shackleton’s former clients revealed the Baroness had charged £95,000 for advice on a child support case. The case was later dropped and the client paid his own costs.
Princess Haya, 45, the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is wealthy in her own right, was in court to apply for her children to be made wards of court.
She also asked the High Court in London to make a series of findings of fact about Sheikh Mohammed, in particular in relation to the kidnap and forcible detention of two of his adult daughters from another marriage almost two decades apart.
She was also applying for a forced marriage protection order in relation to Princess Jalila and a non-molestation order for her own protection.
The princess studied philosophy and economics at Oxford University and is a keen equestrian, representing Jordan at the 2000 Olympics.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, who abducted and detained two of his adult daughters against their will almost two decades apart, a High Court judge has found
The mother-of-three attended almost every hearing, flanked by Baroness Shackleton and a security detail, but Sheikh Mohammed did not attend one.
Sheikh Mohammed’s legal team insisted prior to the fact-finding hearing that the ruler ‘could not and would not’ attend to give evidence.
Lord Pannick told the court that, if the fact-finding went ahead, Sheikh Mohammed’s lawyers would ‘play no active part in these proceedings’.
But Sir Andrew refused to allow him to withdraw, after Mr Geekie told the court that it would not be right that ‘the father’s wish to avoid the scrutiny of the court should deployed in order to reduce the protection that is available to the children’.
Timeline of the legal battle between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussain
The High Court in London has published rulings relating to the legal battle between Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and his former wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussain of Jordan.
Here is a timeline of events in the case.
July 15, 1949 – Sheikh Mohammed is born in Dubai.
May 3, 1974 – Princess Haya born in Amman, Jordan.
August 15, 1981 – Princess Shamsa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born to Sheikh Mohammed, who has several wives.
December 5, 1985 – Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is born.
Summer 2000 – During a visit to England, Shamsa runs away from her family and seeks immigration advice to try and stay in the UK.
August 2000 – Shamsa is taken from the streets of Cambridge by men working for her father.
She is taken to her father’s home in Newmarket, before being taken by helicopter to France and then to Dubai. She has not been seen in public since.
March 2001 – A woman claiming to be Shamsa contacts Cambridgeshire Police, saying she has been taken from England to Dubai.
December 2001 – The Guardian publishes an article suggesting Shamsa has been abducted from the UK.
April 2004 – Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya are married.
December 2, 2007 – Al Jalila born.
January 7, 2012 – Zayed born.
February/March 2018 – A video of Latifa is uploaded to the internet, in which she gives a detailed account of important events in her life. She also describes what she knows about her sister Shamsa’s time in England and her subsequent abduction.
December 6, 2018 – The BBC broadcasts a documentary called Escape From Dubai: The Mystery Of The Missing Princess.
February 7, 2019 – Sheikh Mohammed divorces Princess Haya under sharia law without her knowledge. She says this date, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of her father’s death, is deliberately chosen to ‘maximise insult and upset to her’.
April 15 – Princess Haya travels to the UK with Jalila and Zayed.
May 14 – Sheikh Mohammed issues proceedings at the High Court in London seeking the summary return of his two children with Princess Haya to Dubai.
May 22 – First High Court hearing before Mr Justice Moor – the media, who are unaware of the hearing or even the proceedings, do not attend.
July 16 – On the eve of a ‘scoping hearing’ to consider media issues before Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the family division of the High Court, Princess Haya issues applications to make the children wards of court, for a forced marriage protection order and for a non-molestation order.
July 17 – Three journalists attend and lawyers for Sheikh Mohammed apply for them to be excluded. Sir Andrew says the hearing is relatively short while those in court ‘simply scope out what lies before us’ and to consider what information, if any, should be given to the media. The judge adds that the parties will issue a short statement explaining the nature of the proceedings.
July 18 – With the permission of the court, the parties release the following statement: ‘The parties to these proceedings are HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein. These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances.’
July 30 – At a hearing to work out issues, including the question of media reporting and to how to proceed to a final hearing to determine the welfare issues, Sir Andrew allows the media to report that Sheikh Mohammed has applied for the summary return of the children to Dubai, and that Princess Haya has applied for the children to be made wards of court, for a non-molestation order and a forced marriage protection order.
November 12-13 – Sir Andrew conducts a hearing to make findings of fact in relation to Princess Haya’s allegations against Sheikh Mohammed.
December 11 – The judge delivers his ruling on the fact-finding hearing. However, strict reporting restrictions preventing its publication remain in force.
January 17, 2020 – The judge delivers a ruling on a series of ‘assurances and waivers’ given by Sheikh Mohammed to Princess Haya. He also conducts a hearing to determine whether his earlier rulings should be made public.
January 27 – Sir Andrew concludes that his earlier rulings should be published, but the publication is postponed pending a Court of Appeal challenge by Sheikh Mohammed to this decision.
February 26 – The Court of Appeal hears Sheikh Mohammed’s challenge.
February 28 – Three leading judges dismiss his appeal and refuse to grant him permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The stay on publication remains in force to give the father chance to make a fresh challenge to the Supreme Court.
March 5 – The Supreme Court announces that it has refused permission to appeal and all previous rulings are made public.
The judge’s conclusions are that Princess Haya was subjected to a sustained campaign of fear and intimidation by her former husband. He also finds that Shamsa and Latifa were abducted on their father’s orders.