Two senior barristers have joined a legal campaign seeking the release of a Middle Eastern princess who was allegedly abducted on the orders of her father.
The disappearance of Princess Latifa al-Maktoum, the daughter of the ruler of Dubai, has been linked to the decision of her stepmother, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein, to seek sanctuary in London.
The United Nations working group on enforced disappearances is investigating allegations that Princess Latifa, 33, was seized by Indian and Dubai security forces off the coast of Goa while attempting to flee her homeland in March last year.
The case could cause diplomatic difficulties for Britain and concern for the Queen, who is close to both Princess Latifa’s father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rassghid al-Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and her stepmother, Princess Haya, a half-sister of King Abdullah of Jordan.
Alun Jones, QC, an expert in international law who joined Princess Latifa’s legal team, said: “It is a matter of grave concern that Princess Latifa has suffered from abduction, mistreatment and arbitrary imprisonment, with no opposition or protest from the UK authorities.”
Mr Jones, who founded Great James Street chambers, asked: “Do we stand for the rule of law or not?”
Rodney Dixon, QC, an expert in human rights and international law at Temple Garden Chambers, said: “It is most concerning that Princess Latifa has still not been released and allowed to leave the UAE. Her fundamental human rights are being unjustifiably restricted and abused. The international community can no longer stand by.”
Princess Haya, 45, the Oxford-educated daughter of the former king of Jordan, is in hiding at her £85 million mansion close to Kensington Place in west London after fleeing Dubai last month.
A dispute between Princess Haya and her 69-year-old husband is due to be heard in the family division of the High Court this month.
Sheikh Mohammed is understood to claim that he became concerned about his wife’s closeness to one of the family’s British bodyguards. The princess is reported to have discovered “disturbing facts” about Princess Latifa’s case having previously defended her husband.
Princess Haya is represented by Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, who acted for Prince Charles during his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales. Her husband is represented by Helen Ward (Lady Ward by virtue of her marriage to the retired judge Sir Alan Ward), who acted for the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone during his divorce in 2009.