Queen to ‘distance herself’ from Dubai ruler following court case

The Queen is reportedly set to "distance herself" from the ruler of Dubai following a High Court ruling that he abducted and detained his daughters against their will.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 70, who is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), "ordered and orchestrated" the abduction and forced return to Dubai of Sheikha Shamsa, then 19, in August 2000 and her sister Sheikha Latifa twice, in 2002 and again in 2018, according to a damning judgment published on Thursday.

The confirmation of long-standing rumours surrounding Sheikh Mohammed's two daughters came out of his legal battle with his sixth wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 45, the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, over their two children.

The Queen and Sheikh Mohammed have previously been pictured together at horse racing events and he has been invited to the Royal Box at Ascot.

Royal Ascot - Day Five - Ascot Racecourse
Queen Elizabeth II, Charlie Appleby and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (left to right) at Royal Ascot in 2019 (Jonathan Brady/PA.)

But The Times reported she will "refuse to be photographed with him or the princess in public" following the court case.

Buckingham Palace has been approached for comment.

It comes as Cambridgeshire Police is to launch a review of an investigation over the disappearance of Shamsa in 2000.

Shamsa, now 38, was abducted from the streets of Cambridge on August 19 2000 and has never been seen in public since.

Cambridgeshire Police has confirmed "aspects" of its 2001 probe – which found insufficient evidence to take any action – will be revisited, although the force insisted the investigation was no longer "active".

A spokeswoman said: "An investigation into the alleged abduction of Shamsa Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in 2000 was carried out by Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 2001.

"With the evidence that was available to us this was insufficient to take any further action.

Sheikh Mohammed divorce proceedings
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein (Aaron Chown/PA).

"A review took place in 2017 and it was again concluded there was insufficient evidence to take any further action. This is no longer an active investigation and we are not in contact with the victim.

"The burden of proof and evidential requirements are significantly different in family court proceedings to that of criminal proceedings, however, in light of the recent release of the judgement, aspects of the case will now be subject to review."

At the High Court, Princess Haya asked Sir Andrew McFarlane, the most senior family judge in England and Wales, to make findings of fact about Sheikh Mohammed in relation to his application for contact with their daughter Al Jalila, 12, and son Zayed, eight.

Sir Andrew explained in his judgment that "a substantial element in the extreme concern (Princess Haya) has for the future well-being of her children arises from her belief that Shamsa and Latifa have been and are deprived of their liberty on an open-ended basis".

DCI David Beck led Cambridgeshire Police's investigation into her disappearance, and discovered the arrival and departure of a helicopter which travelled from Newmarket to France at 5am on August 20.

The officer sought permission from the Crown Prosecution Service to visit Dubai to interview potential witnesses, but his request was refused.

Royal Ascot - Day Five - Ascot Racecourse
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Mike Egerton/PA).

At a hearing in November, Princess Haya's barrister Charles Geekie QC told the court that DCI Beck's evidence made clear that there had been "interference" in the police inquiry.

In his judgment, Sir Andrew said the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) had confirmed it held "information relating to the investigation of Shamsa's alleged kidnapping".

But the FCO refused to disclose it, saying that "releasing information on this issue would increase public knowledge about our relations with UAE" and "would reduce the UK Government's ability to protect and promote UK interests through its relations with UAE which would not be in the public interest".

Sir Andrew concluded: "It is not possible to find on the balance of probability that permission for Mr Beck to visit Dubai was refused because of the direct intervention of the FCO, nor, moving further still from the basic known facts, that any intervention by the FCO had been triggered by the father or the government of Dubai."

Princess Haya's lawyers wanted both Shamsa and Latifa to give evidence about their treatment at their father's hands.

But, in his evidence to the court, Sheikh Mohammed claimed: "I saw both of my daughters on August 27 2019 and I explained that Princess Haya's solicitors wanted to speak to them.

"Both Shamsa and Latifa were adamant that they did not want to do this. I gave them both the opportunity to take independent legal advice, so that they could take an informed decision about whether and how to become involved in these proceedings."

Sir Andrew rejected that contention, stating that he did not accept that "Shamsa and Latifa have been given a free choice about engaging in this court process and communicating directly in some way either with the mother in these proceedings or the court".

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