Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai (3rd right) visits a FlyDubai aircraft at the Dubai Airshow. File picture: Farhad Berahman/AP
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai (3rd right) visits a FlyDubai aircraft at the Dubai Airshow. File picture: Farhad Berahman/AP

Exposed: The sheikh who abducted and imprisoned his daughters and the UK officials that helped him

By SAM GREENHILL CHIEF REPORTER Time of article published Mar 6, 2020

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London - Ministers helped a billionaire sheikh get away with the kidnap of his daughter from the streets of Britain, the High Court has heard.

The ruler of Dubai, a friend of the Queen and close UK ally, ordered henchmen to abduct Princess Shamsa from Cambridge in 2000, a judge found.

The teenager said armed bodyguards grabbed her, injected her with sedatives and rendered her to Dubai, where she was tortured. Yet when Cambridgeshire police launched a criminal probe, it was allegedly shut down amid ‘interference’ by the Foreign Office – as a diplomatic favour.

In an astonishing ruling, Sheikh Mohammed al-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. 

The court found he masterminded behaviour which, on the balance of probabilities, potentially runs ‘contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law and internationally accepted human rights norms’.

Now for the first time, the alleged kidnap cover-up under Tony Blair’s government of 2000 can be reported. At the time, Labour was supposedly pursuing an ‘ethical foreign policy’. But 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. Shamsa had begged British detectives to save her, but they were forced to drop the case.

Jordanian Princess Haya bint Al-Hussein and husband Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum walk to the parade ring on Ladies Day the third day of racing at Royal Ascot in southern England in June 2010. File picture: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

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 caught out his wife having an affair with her British bodyguard.

Today’s bombshell revelations come after Sheikh Maktoum lost a desperate bid to keep the case secret. The head of state 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 £9billion – 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. 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.

Princess Haya bint Al Hussein arrives at the High Court in London. Picture: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

Charles Geekie, a QC for Princess Haya, told the High Court there was ‘interference’ in the police enquiry 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 that Dubai had ‘made representations’ to the Foreign Office ‘to bring an end to the investigation’. But he ruled it was not possible to prove this.

The sheikh did not appear himself during the court case. 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 of the story.

Daily Mail

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