Newmarket stud owner kidnapped children and intimidated ex wife, court hears
The owner of a Newmarket stud has been found to have conducted a “campaign of fear and intimidation” against his estranged wife who fled Dubai with their children, the High Court has found.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the ruler of Dubai, the Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and is understood to be on "respectful and friendly terms" with the British royal family.
He is the the founder of Godolphin horseracing and breeding and owns the Dalham Hall stud.
The sheikh's sixth wife, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, fled to London in April 2019 after becoming 'terrified' of her husband at the start of the year.
Princess Haya's barrister, Charles Geekie QC, told the court in November of about a number of "appalling acts" perpetrated against his client, including anonymous notes being left in her bedroom, one of which read: "We will take your son - your daughter is ours - your life is over."
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The court heard Sheikh Mohammed had divorced Princess Haya on Friday February 7 without her knowledge, on the anniversary of her father's death - a date which the Princess believes was chosen to deliberately upset her.
He applied for the summary return of the princess, daughter to the late King Hussein of Jordan, and his daughter Al Jalila, 12, and son Zayed, eight, to Dubai.
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However, his now ex-wife applied for their children to become wards of the court and also asked for a forced marraige protection order in relation to her daughter and a non-molestation order for herself.
Princess Haya attended almost every hearing, flanked by her solicitor Baroness Fiona Shackleton and security detail, but Sheikh Mohammed did not attend one. He attended a horse auction in Newmarket on the day of one preliminary hearing in October.
Judgements by senior family judge Sir Andrew McFarlane published today found the 70-year-old ruler had also 'ordered and orchestrated' the abduction and forced return to Dubai of his two other daughters, Sheikha Shamsa in August 2000 when she was aged 19, and Sheikha Latifa in both 2002 and 2008.
Latifa's second attempted escape from the UAE made headlines around the world after the publication in March 2018 of a video which she said would only be released if "I'm dead, or I'm in a very, very, very bad situation".
Sir Andrew found proved claims by Tiina Jauhiainen, Latifa's friend who tried to help her escape the UAE, that Indian special forces had boarded a boat in international waters off the coast of Goa on March 4 2018, before Latifa was taken back to Dubai against her will.
Sheikh Mohammed issued a statement after the judgments were published and spoke about his appeal to the Supreme Court to block the publication which was rejected.
He said: "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."
The sheikh did not attend the hearing to give evidence as his lawyers said he "could not and would not".
Sheikh Mohammed attempted to withdraw his application for contact with his children in November.
His QC 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 it would not be right that "the father's wish to avoid the scrutiny of the court should be deployed in order to reduce the protection that is available to the children".
Also in November, Ms Jauhiainen and Detective Chief Inspector David Beck, who led the Cambridgeshire Police investigation into Shamsa's abduction, attended to give evidence to the court.
Mr Geekie said DCI Beck's evidence made clear there had been "interference" in the police inquiry, adding: "We have it directly that the Foreign Office were plainly engaged back in 2000 with a direct interest being expressed by the Foreign Secretary and we have it from Mr Beck's statement... permission to pursue the investigation in Dubai was refused."