March 3, 2020, Reuters
Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum has applied to Britain’s top court to try to stop publication of two judgments given in a legal battle with his former wife over the wardship of their two children.
Mohammed has been involved in a dispute with Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, half-sister of Jordan’s King Abdullah, over the welfare of their two children since last May.
Andrew McFarlane, president of London’s High Court Family Division, who has been overseeing the case, has issued two judgments and in January decided these should be made public.
Up to this point, the hearings had been held almost entirely in private.
Last week, Britain’s Court of Appeal rejected Mohammed’s bid to overturn McFarlane’s decision and refused him permission to take the case to the Supreme Court, Britain’s highest judicial body.
However, he is allowed to apply directly and on Tuesday the Supreme Court said it had received his application for permission to appeal which will be heard by three senior judges.
“The court is aware of the urgency of this matter,” it said in a statement. “We will provide updates as further information becomes available.”
Restrictions barring reporting of McFarlane’s judgments on “fact-finding” and “assurances and waivers” along with the hearings themselves will remain in place until the Supreme Court has made its decision.
In a public statement issued last July, Mohammed and Haya said the case did not concern divorce or finances but was limited to their children’s welfare.
The sheikh has applied to the court for the summary return of his children to Dubai. Princess Haya has asked the court to protect one of the children from a forced marriage and to grant a non-molestation order, a type of injunction that protects against harassment or threats.
The wardship proceedings are still ongoing and there will be a “welfare hearing” at the end of next month.
The sheikh, vice-president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has not attended the court in person while Haya, who was educated in Britain, has been present at hearings.
Witnesses in the case have included the British detective who led an investigation into the disappearance of Shamsa, the sheikh’s daughter from another marriage, from Cambridge in 2000, and Tiina Jauhiainen, who says she tried to help her friend Latifa, Shamsa’s younger sister, flee Dubai in 2018.