'Runaway' princess fights Dubai Sheikh over custody secrets

Sheikh Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, is fighting to stop details of their High Court child custody battle being made public.

2020-02-27 12:56:00 PM

Sheikh Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, is fighting to stop details of their High Court child custody battle being made public.

Dubai's runaway Princess Haya attended court in London as her billionaire ex-husband mounted a bid to keep their long-running legal case secret.

EmailLondon - Dubai's runaway Princess Haya attended court in London on Wednesday as her billionaire ex-husband mounted a bid to keep their long-running legal case secret.Sheikh Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, is fighting to stop details of their High Court child custody battle being made public.

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On Wednesday Princess Haya, who was the youngest of his six wives, appeared at the Royal Courts of Justice to support a media bid to publish a senior judge’s ruling in the case.Wearing a white coat-dress, she was flanked by solicitor Baroness Shackleton, nicknamed the Steel Magnolia, who handled the divorces of Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney.

At stake are judicial findings which Sheikh Maktoum, a friend of the Queen, does not want made public.The case has included evidence from a British police chief who investigated claims the Sheikh 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.The child custody court case started last year after Princess Haya, 45, fled the Gulf state with their two children to the UK "in fear of her life".

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 70, applied to the High Court in London for the ‘summary return’ of his children to the United Arab Emirates, where he is prime minister and vice-president, and the emirate of Dubai, which he rules.The princess asked for a "non-molestation order", commonly used in domestic violence cases.

She also urged the High Court to protect one of her children from being forced into an arranged marriage.Britain’s most senior family court judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane, has overseen months of private hearings.At the moment, court orders prevent the public from knowing his conclusions in relation to "certain disputed factual issues". Now Princess Haya, who lives in an £85million London townhouse next to Kensington Palace, wants the world to know what Sir Andrew has concluded.

Sheikh Maktoum, who owns racing stables in Newmarket, Suffolk, wants it to remain private.But it can today be revealed that in a significant milestone towards open justice, Sir Andrew, the president of the family division of the High Court, which usually sits behind closed doors, has ruled his ‘judgment on certain disputed factual issues’ and another related judgment should be made public.

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The billionaire sheikh is appealing against this decision.He has paid one of Britain’s top QCs, Lord Pannick, to argue at the Appeal Court that the secrets of his family should be kept under wraps. On Wednesday Lord Justice Underhill, vice president of the Court of Appeal, said: ‘The president decided that the two previous judgments could and should now be published.

"The father contends that that decision was wrong in law and that the judgments should not be published."The appeal is opposed by the mother, the independent guardian appointed by the court to represent the children’s interests, and by a number of media organisations."

The Daily Mail is spearheading the application to ease reporting restrictions with other newspapers.Among the witnesses to give evidence was David Beck, a former detective chief inspector at Cambridgeshire Police, who investigated claims the sheikh’s daughter Princess Shamsa was kidnapped in 2000. She has not been heard from since.

Mr Beck told a BBC documentary in 2018 that he found evidence that "suggested there may be some substance to what was being alleged".Another witness in the High Court case was Tiina Jauhiainen, who was on board a yacht during a 2018 escape bid by Princess Shamsa’s younger sister Princess Latifa.

Lord Justice Underhill is sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Bean. They are due to announce their decision in the next few days. Read more: IOL News »

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