Queen's under pressure to ditch Dubai's ruler as friend

Queen’s sheikh friend hacked peer’s phone: Royal is under pressure to ditch Dubai’s ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as High Court finds he ran an illegal UK phone tapping racket

  • Close ally of Britain was able to snoop on emails of royal lawyer Fiona Shackleton
  • The Sheikh also hacked the iPhone of his wife Princess Haya, who fled to Britain
  • Extraordinary revelations should be a ‘wake-up call’ Labour MP Chris Bryant said

The Queen faces pressure to ditch her friendship with Dubai’s ruler after the High Court found he ran an illegal UK phone hacking racket.

In a constitutional outrage, the close ally of Britain was able to snoop on the parliamentary emails of Tory peer and former royal lawyer Fiona Shackleton.

Sheikh Mohammed also hacked the iPhone of her client Princess Haya, his wife who fled to Britain in fear of her life and those of her staff.

The Queen (pictured on Wednesday in Windsor) faces pressure to ditch her friendship with Dubai’s ruler after the High Court found he ran an illegal UK phone hacking racket

The extraordinary revelations should prove a ‘wake-up call’, Labour MP Chris Bryant said last night.

He added: ‘The Foreign Office needs to do a proper inquiry into our relationship with Dubai and I would have thought the Foreign Secretary will be summoning in the ambassador for a “meeting without coffee”.’

A senior judge concluded that Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the horse race-loving friend of the Royal Family and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, committed a ‘total abuse of trust and indeed an abuse of power’.

He previously orchestrated the armed kidnap of his runaway daughter Princess Shamsa from Cambridgeshire in 2000, persuading Tony Blair’s government to hush it up, the High Court heard. He also allegedly abducted her sister Princess Latifa when she too tried to flee Dubai.

In a ruling made public today after the Mail and other media successfully argued for open justice, Sir Andrew McFarlane said: ‘It is more probable than not that the surveillance of the six phones … was carried out by servants or agents of the father … with [his] express or implied authority.’

It means the sheikh has been found, on the balance of probabilities, to have yet again ridden roughshod over UK laws with his sinister black ops hacking plot in pursuit of his sixth and youngest wife, Princess Haya, 47.

Pictured: The Queen attends an unveiling of a design For the Shiekh Zayed National Museum accompanied By Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum during a state visit to Abu Dhabi

She fled Dubai in 2019 with their two children Princess Jalila, 13, and Prince Zayed, nine, and now lives in an English country mansion in ‘justified’ terror of him launching a helicopter abduction of them, according to Sir Andrew, who is president of the High Court’s family division.

Last night Scotland Yard revealed it had investigated ‘multiple allegations of crime’ involving six alleged victims.

Sheikh Mohammed, 72, a ‘coercive and controlling’ husband, potentially committed ‘serial breaches of domestic criminal law’, the High Court was told.

In a surprising twist, the phone hacking operation, ‘more probably than not’ personally ordered by the sheikh, was rumbled by Cherie Blair QC through her links to a firm that makes the military-grade Pegasus spyware used by Dubai’s intelligence service.

The sheikh has denied any knowledge of the hacking. But not content with the spying operation, his associates even resorted to trying to buy a huge £30million estate next door to Haya’s bolthole on the Berkshire-Surrey border to keep even closer tabs on her and their children, the court heard. 

The Queen is a longstanding friend of both the sheikh and Haya, the glamorous Oxford-educated daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, and she accepted several horses from him even after he was accused in 2019 of kidnapping Shamsa and Latifa.

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said: ‘Despite the Queen’s well-established equestrian links with the sheikh, in light of these findings it seems likely that she will distance herself from him, at least in public. The Queen has known Princess Haya since she was a child and is fond of her.’

Queen Elizabeth And The Duke Of Edinburgh are shown with Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum during a visit to Dubai

But one royal source added: ‘I suspect the Queen’s reaction will be determined by how the Government decides to handle this. It’s a tricky one, as the UAE are a key ally of the UK.’ 

Haya’s high-profile solicitor Baroness Shackleton, a Tory peer who acted for Prince Charles and Sir Paul McCartney in their divorces, was among those targeted in the astonishing cyber hacking mission. 

She reported to Black Rod, the monarch’s representative in the House of Lords, that her ‘parliamentary email, my own email, my WhatsApp messages, my pictures and my texts are all visible to somebody else’.

Scotland Yard and the National Crime Agency have been informed of the hacking.

The Met said it had received ‘multiple allegations of crime including unauthorised access and interception of digital devices and offences contrary to the Computer Misuse Act relating to six complainants’.

Detectives launched an investigation and ‘significant inquiries were carried out’ for five months – but the inquiry was shut down in February.

Last night the sheikh said: ‘I have always denied the allegations made against me and I continue to do so. These matters concern supposed operations of state security.

‘As a head of government involved in private family proceedings, it was not appropriate for me to provide evidence on such sensitive matters either personally or via my advisers in a foreign court.

‘Neither the Emirate of Dubai nor the UAE are party to these proceedings and they did not participate in the hearing.’

The cyber-hacking mission took place during a critical phase in the sheikh and Haya’s custody case at the High Court in the summer of last year. The case continues. 

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