Billionaire Dubai ruler Sheikh Al Maktoum loses court bid to keep secret his marital feud with youngest wife Princess Haya after she ran away to London ‘in fear of her life’
- Ruler of Dubai wanted to keep two judgments relating to the legal row in secret
- However, Lord Justice Underhill rejected his bid at a Court of Appeal hearing
- The couple are locked in a long-running row over the custody of their children
The ruler of Dubai today lost his court bid to keep secret his marital feud with his youngest wife who ran away to London.
The Appeal Court ruled that the world should know what a judge has concluded about Sheikh Maktoum and Princess Haya’s High Court wrangle, which has been going on since she fled Dubai last year.
Princess Haya, wearing a lilac dress suit, was in the Appeal Court in London to hear the verdict, arriving with lawyer Baroness Fiona Shackleton.
But despite the ruling, the details of the case remain private because the billionaire sheikh – a friend of the Queen – now has the option of taking his appeal to the Supreme Court, to ask the highest judges in the land to keep the case under wraps.
Princess Haya, 45, ran away to London last year ‘in fear of her life’, taking the couple’s two children with her and applying for them to be made wards of court.
The sheikh, who owns racehorse stables and homes in the UK, applied to the High Court for the ‘summary return’ of the young royals.
The judge in the High Court case, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has presided over a dozen hearings in private and has made a series of findings, which at present cannot be reported because the family court operates in private.
But Sir Andrew, the president of the family division of the High Court, has ruled that his judgment can be made public. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 70, appealed this decision, and there was a hearing on Wednesday at the Appeal Court.
Today, the Appeal Court vice president Lord Justice Underhill said: ‘The unanimous decision of the court is that these appeals should be dismissed.’
Princess Haya arriving at the Court of Appeal with Baroness Fiona Shackleton for today’s hearing
Princess Haya accompanies Mohammed bin Rashed al-Maktoum at Ascot in 2008
Princess Haya, 45, who was the youngest of his six wives, is supporting a media application for the world to be allowed to see the family court’s judgments in the case. The independent guardian, who was appointed by the court to represent the two children’s interests, is also supporting the bid to publish the documents.
Princess Haya was accompanied by her solicitor Baroness Shackleton, nicknamed the ‘Steel Magnolia’, who famously handled the divorces of Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney.
Sheikh Mohammed’s legal team is headed by Lord Pannick QC, who acted for Gina Miller in the landmark Supreme Court case over the prorogation of Parliament. He has also employed Helen Ward who represented Guy Ritchie when he was divorcing Madonna.
The Daily Mail is spearheading the application to ease reporting restrictions, along with The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, the BBC and others.
Princess Haya (seen outside the Court of Appeal today) has been locked in a long-running custody battle with her estranged husband
Sheikh Mohammed’s legal team is headed by Lord Pannick QC, (left) who acted for Gina Miller in the landmark Supreme Court case over the prorogation of Parliament. He was also represented in preliminary hearings by Lady Helen Ward, (right) a solicitor who represented director Guy Ritchie in his divorce from Madonna
The long-running case has included evidence from a British police chief who investigated claims that Sheikh Maktoum previously kidnapped a runaway daughter, Princess Shamsa, from Cambridgeshire and had her returned to Dubai.
Another witness who gave evidence was present on a yacht when another of his daughters, Princess Latifa, was also allegedly abducted. The sheikh vehemently denies the claims.
Sheikh’s divorce sees two of Britain’s most famous lawyers go head-to-head
Two of Britain’s most successful divorce lawyers are going up against each other in the battle between Sheikh Al Maktoum and his estranged youngest wife Princess Haya.
Fiona Shackleton, who represented British heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles in his divorce from his late first wife Princess Diana, is representing Princess Haya.
The Baroness also handled Paul McCartney’s split from Heather Mills.
She famously left the High Court smiling but soaked alongside her client Mr McCartney after his divorce from Mills became so heated that she poured a jug of water over Fiona as she was awarded just 24.3million of the Beatles star’s £820million fortune.
Fiona, believed to be the highest-paid divorce lawyer in the country, was made a life peer in 2010, becoming Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia. She is related to the explorer Ernest Shackleton through her husband Ian.
Sheikh Mohammed, meanwhile, is represented by Helen Ward, who acted for British film director Guy Ritchie in his divorce from pop star Madonna.
Lady Ward, who works for Stewart’s Law of London, is known for her sharp intelligence and work ethic, previously claiming she worked 17 or 18 hour days ‘if I have to.’
Lady Ward was also represented Bernie Ecclestone in his £2bn divorce battle with ex-wife Slavica, at the High Court in 2009.
The Sheikh’s legal team also includes David Pannick, who has successfully represented anti-Brexit campaigners in two high-profile court victories over the government.
The princess asked the High Court for a ‘non-molestation order’, commonly used in domestic violence cases. She also urged the court to protect one of her children from being forced into an arranged marriage, applying for a ‘forced marriage protection order’. This is designed to stop someone who may be at risk of a forced marriage from being taken out of the UK.
Sheikh Mohammed challenged the decision to publish two judgments which relate to ‘certain disputed factual issues’ and ‘issues arising out of the special position of (Sheikh Mohammed) as the sovereign and head of government of a foreign state’.
Haya’s solicitor Baroness Shackleton became a life peer sitting on the Tory benches in 2010 and remains the personal solicitor of Princes William and Harry.
She is related to the famous explorer Ernest Shackleton through her husband Ian.
Sheik Mohammed, who turned 70 last July, is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. He has more than 20 children by different wives.
He is also the founder of the successful Godolphin horse racing stable and received a trophy from the Queen after one of his horses won a race at Royal Ascot earlier this year.
At a previous High Court hearing, before Sir Andrew in November, Tiina Jauhiainen – a friend of one of Sheikh Mohammed’s daughters from another marriage, Princess Latifa – and David Beck, formerly a detective chief inspector with Cambridgeshire Police, attended to give evidence to the court.
Ms Jauhiainen has previously said publicly that she helped Princess Latifa attempt to flee the UAE, before her friend was allegedly abducted and taken back to Dubai in March 2018.
Mr Beck, who led an investigation into the disappearance in 2000 of Princess Shamsa, Princess Latifa’s sister, has previously told the BBC that he applied to visit Dubai with the intention of speaking to Princess Shamsa but that his request was rejected, adding: ‘I was never given a reason why.’
The Appeal Court refused an application by the sheikh to take his case to the Supreme Court. However he has the option of applying directly to the Supreme Court. The Appeal Court gave him until 4pm on Tuesday, by extending reporting restrictions until then.
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