- Dubai ruler and his Jordanian royal wife are locked in legal battle over children
- Princess Haya wants order preventing children from suffering forced marriage
- Also cites cases of Sheikh’s missing daughters Latifa and Shamsa in needing aid
- Shamsa was grabbed from the streets of Cambridge in 2000 and not seen since
- Latifa was found smuggled inside a yacht heading from Oman to India in 2018
- Human rights groups say princesses must be called as witnesses to High Court
The High Court battle between Princess Haya and Dubai’s billionaire ruler could unlock the truth about two of his children who vanished and are allegedly imprisoned in his Gulf state.
Princess Shamsa was last seen in 2000 after running from a Surrey mansion while Princess Latifa was intercepted in 2018 trying to escape Sheikh Maktoum by fleeing to Goa smuggled in a yacht sailed by a man who once left Dubai in a burka to avoid arrest.
Haya, 45, ran from Dubai in May and cited what happened to Shamsa, 38, and Latifa, 33, who are daughters from one of his other six wives.
She has now begged a London judge for a forced marriage protection order in relation to their two children. A £4.5billion divorce case is expected to follow, also in London.
Latifa’s best friend Tiina Jauhiainen, 41, a glamorous Finnish martial artist, and Marcus Essabri, Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew, have been at the High Court supporting Haya this week – but her estranged husband has stayed away.
David Haigh from the Free Latifa Campaign and human rights group Detained International, says he hopes Princess Haya’s lawyers led by Baroness Shackleton will try to call Latifa and Shamsa as witnesses to highlight the sisters’ own plight.
Even if they cannot appear Mr Haigh believes a British court could reveal details about where they are being held and their mental and physical well-being including whether they are in prison and sedated.
He told ABC News: ‘If an English judge is deciding whether it’s safe to send two young children that are currently in England to the Middle East, to their father, then his past behaviour to his other children is clearly going to be very important.
‘For the first time in the last 18 months, [Latifa’s] case is going to be looked at by a proper court in a proper jurisdiction in an open hearing’.
Princess Haya has applied for a non-molestation order – designed to help victims of domestic violence keep abusers away – because Sheikh Mohammed is reportedly seeking the return of his two children, who are minors, with his estranged wife, to Dubai.
Jordan-born royal Haya said the plight of Latifa and Shamsa forced her to flee and seek refuge in the UK.
Princess Latifa disappearance last year came 18 years after her sister Princess Shamsa vanished. They share the same mother, Princess Houria Ahmed Lamara, from Algeria.
Shamsa was living at her father’s multi-million pound Surrey mansion in 2000 when she escaped.
The 19-year-old went into hiding for six weeks but was grabbed in the street 100 miles away in Cambridge.
She was flown by private jet back to Dubai where she hasn’t been seen or heard of since.
Then in February last year Princess Latifa Maktoum, 33, fled Dubai to seek political asylum.
The Princess had first contacted skipper Jean-Pierre Hervé Jaubert, 62, at his home in the Philippines after reading how he had fled from Dubai in 2008 amid accusations of corruption by dressing up in a burka to fool immigration agents.
Jaubert agreed to help and after months of secret communications with the Princess he was in place off the Oman coast by the end of February after she drove there with her best friend Tiina.
Ms Jauhiainen and the Princess were picked up by Jaubert from a secluded beach on a jet ski and taken to the yacht.
After a week at sea, Jaubert claims they were being tracked by reconnaissance planes and 50miles off Goa they were boarded by the Indian coastguard.
The 62-year-old was beaten, blindfolded and interrogated for hours under the threat of death after being seized by soldiers acting on the orders of the billionaire ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum , he claims.
He had allegedly ordered his forces to swoop on Jaubert’s yacht. He was later released without charge after MailOnline broke the story of Princess Latifa’s bid to start a new life and the authorities in Dubai knew they could not keep their capture and imprisonment secret, they said.
After ten months of silence about Latifa, in December 2018 the Dubai royal court released a statement saying that the Princess was ‘safe’ and at home in the Gulf.
Sheikh Mohammed’s nephew Marcus Essabri believes Haya’s legal battle in London will show how his uncle has mistreated her and his cousins Princess Latifa and Princess Shamsa.
Speaking to Australia’s TV news show ’60 Minutes’, Essabri said previously: ‘The one person who knows the truth about what happened to my cousins Latifa and Shamsa is Princess Haya.
‘I hope that she uses the court case to tell the world how they have been treated. She has the opportunity to do some good for these poor women.’
Princess Haya – the estranged wife of the billionaire ruler of Dubai – has been at London’s High Court all week for hearings over the couple’s children.
However, it appears her estranged husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, has stayed away.
Princess Haya arrived yesterday with her lawyer the specialist divorce lawyer Baroness Shackleton, dubbed the ‘Steel Magnolia’ who handled Prince Charles’s split from Princess Diana and the Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce.
The two parties said in a statement in July that the case before the High Court in London, which is covered by strict reporting restrictions, did not concern divorce or finances but was limited to their children’s welfare.
The sheikh was not present yesterday and again today and has previously stayed away from proceedings, attending a horse auction at the same time as hearing earlier this year.
At an earlier hearing, Haya, the 45-year-old daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan and half-sister to present King Abdullah, asked the court to protect one of her children from a forced marriage and to grant a non-molestation order, a type of injunction that protects against harassment or threats.
Princess Haya, who competed in equestrian jumping in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, was schooled in Britain and in the past often attended Britain’s Royal Ascot horse races with her estranged husband, one of the founders of the Godolphin horse racing stable.
Two of Britain’s most famous family lawyers are representing the two parties. Fiona Shackleton, who represented British heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles in his divorce from his late first wife Princess Diana, is representing Haya.
Sheikh Mohammed is represented by Helen Ward, who acted for British film director Guy Ritchie in his divorce from pop star Madonna.
His legal team also includes David Pannick, who has successfully represented anti-Brexit campaigners in two high-profile court victories over the government.
The case is being overseen by Andrew McFarlane, President of the Family Division of London’s High Court.
Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed – who married in 2004 – had issued a statement confirming they are parties to proceedings before the court following an earlier private hearing before Sir Andrew.
The statement said: ‘These proceedings are concerned with the welfare of the two children of their marriage and do not concern divorce or finances.’
Sheikh Mohammed, who turned 70 in July, is the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.
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.
Sheikh Mohammed has been represented at preliminary hearings by Lord Pannick QC, who acted for Gina Miller in the landmark Supreme Court case over the prorogation of Parliament, and Lady Helen Ward, a solicitor who represented director Guy Ritchie in his divorce from Madonna.
Her legal team includes Baroness Fiona Shackleton, who represented the Prince of Wales during his divorce from Diana, and Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce from Heather Mills.
Princess Haya wed the 70-year-old sheikh, who is also vice-president of the UAE, in 2004 in what was believed to be his sixth marriage. He has more than 20 children by different wives.
Haya is the daughter of Jordan’s late Queen Alia, a popular figure with Palestinian roots who died in a helicopter crash in 1977.
Sheikh Mohammed, one of the world’s richest men, has not attended court but has shared a number of poems on social media describing ‘overcoming life’s challenges’.
Haya smuggled their children out of Dubai earlier this year ‘in fear of her life’, according to the BBC’s well-connected security correspondent Frank Gardner.
She reportedly took £31million with her and sought refuge in her £85million townhouse near Kensington Palace.
The estranged couple are both friends of the Queen. Their estimated £4.5billion divorce could be the costliest in British legal history.
Haya, who is fighting for custody of her two children, successfully requested they be made wards of the British court, meaning no major decisions can be made about their future without a family judge’s permission.
A court order means further details of the case, including the ages and genders of the children, cannot be reported.
The hearing is listed to begin at noon.
It was previously reported that Haya fled Dubai in May after what happened to her husband’s daughter Princess Latifa, 33.
One of his 23 children by different wives, Latifa left last year to make a new life in the US, but was intercepted by special forces and forced to return.
The BBC’s security correspondent said Haya fears she may be abducted herself and ‘rendered’ back to Dubai.
The sheikh, who is also the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, has not made any public comment.
The divorce proceedings have not even started yet.
Former infantry soldier Russell Flowers is the man reported to have had ‘inappropriate contact’ with Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, sparking the £4.5bn divorce.
The close protection officer, who separated from his wife last year, today declined to comment on his friendship with the mother-of-two, who is believed to have fled the Arab Kingdom and hiding at the family’s £85million mansion near Kensington Palace.
Asked about the rumoured friendship lasting three years and suggestions that he will be named in divorce proceedings, he said over the summer: ‘I have got nothing to say on the matter.’
Mr Flowers, 36, is said to have become too close to the royal during his five-year posting as her close protection officer based at the family’s Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket and accompanied her around the world.
The friendship is believed to be the reason the Princess has fled the Arab kingdom and is now in hiding in London and awaiting a divorce hearing.
Last year Flowers, for five years a soldier with Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, was pictured with her during the Dubai royal family’s annual visit to Royal Ascot.
The bodyguard has since gone into hiding after the sheikh is said to have been troubled by his apparent closeness to his wife.
Senior members of the royal court in Dubai had expressed their concern over the friendship and brought it to the attention of her billionaire racehorse owner husband.
The 70-year-old Sheikh – one of the world’s richest men – has made no official comment but published a poem that many believed was directed at his wife and talking about ‘treachery and betrayal’.