Mark Hollingsworth and Owen Bowcott
July 25, 2019, The Guardian
Dubai government legal department is challenging payments made to company chaired by Lord Stevens
Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan police commissioner, has been caught up in the royal family dispute between Princess Haya of Jordan and her estranged husband, Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai.
The latest twist in the domestic row is allegedly over payments to Quest Global Ltd, a private risk management and security firm with headquarters in central London.
The company chairman is Lord Stevens, a distinguished senior policemen who led a series of inquiries into collusion in Northern Ireland. Since joining Quest he has conducted investigations into equine doping, corruption in Premier League football transfers and F1 racing.
Documents seen by the Guardian, show that payments made to the company dating back to 2016 are being challenged by the government of Dubai’s legal affairs department. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Quest.
Princess Haya, the daughter of the former King Hussein of Jordan, is locked in a legal battle with her husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and the vice-president of the United Arab Emirates, over the welfare of their two children.
An audit of accounts controlled by government and entities funded by Sheikh Mohammed “have raised serious concerns in relation to payments made to Quest Global going back as far as 2016”, according to a letter sent by Dubai’s legal affairs department to Martin Smith, CEO of Quest Global.
Examination of the accounts has resulted in the sheikh’s “audit unit” “conducting a full audit of all past payments made to Quest Global”. The firm has provided private security for the princess. Five years ago it also cleared the sheikh of having any knowledge of drug-related incidents in the horse racing industry.
The dispute between Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed will be heard in the high court on 30 July and 31 July. She is reported to have fled Dubai and is understood to be living in London in fear of kidnap after the alleged abductions of several close relatives.
The most notorious alleged disappearance involved the 33-year-old Princess Latifa, Sheikh Mohammed’s daughter, who allegedly escaped Dubai before being seized off the coast of India by commandos last year and forcibly returned home. Emirati authorities dismissed the claims at the time as fiction.
In 2000, another of the sheikh’s daughters, Princess Shamsa, fled her father’s estate near Chobham, Surrey. She was last seen in August that year on the streets of Cambridge from where she was reportedly abducted by the sheikh’s staff.
Cambridgeshire police investigated the incident. It has confirmed that it reviewed its investigation in 2017 and through into last year. However, a spokesperson told the Guardian: “This is no longer an active investigation as it concluded there was insufficient evidence to take any further action. However, should we receive any new lines of inquiry these will be reviewed.”
Quest declined to speak about client matters. Representatives of Sheikh Mohammed in London also did not comment.