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Supreme Court refuses bid by ruler of Dubai to block publication of judgments

Sheikh Mohammed is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.


Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Simon Cooper/PA)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Simon Cooper/PA)

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (Simon Cooper/PA)

The Supreme Court has refused a bid by the ruler of Dubai to block the publication of two judgments relating to his legal battle with his estranged wife.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 70, has applied to the High Court in London for the summary return to Dubai of his two children with Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 45, the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Princess Haya has applied for the children to be made wards of court, and has also applied for a forced marriage protection order in relation to one of the children and a non-molestation order.

Sheikh Mohammed divorce proceedings
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein with her lawyer, Baroness Fiona Shackleton (Aaron Chown/PA)

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, is now taking his bid to challenge the decision by Sir Andrew McFarlane, the president of the Family Division, to publish two of his judgments to the UK’s highest court.

The Court of Appeal said last week that Sir Andrew’s two rulings relate to “certain disputed factual issues” and “issues arising out of the special position of (Sheikh Mohammed) as the sovereign and head of government of a foreign state”.

At a Court of Appeal hearing in London on Friday, Lord Justice Underhill said it was “the unanimous decision of the court” to dismiss Sheikh Mohammed’s appeal.

The judge added that the Court of Appeal had refused Sheikh Mohammed’s application for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but that he had until 4pm on Tuesday to apply directly to that court.

On Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court confirmed that Sheikh Mohammed had lodged an application for permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal’s ruling.

However, the Supreme Court announced on Thursday that it would not hear the case.

The spokeswoman said in a statement: “Permission to appeal was refused because the application does not raise an arguable point of law of general public importance.”

Sheikh Mohammed’s application was considered by three Supreme Court justices – Lord Hodge, Lord Wilson and Lady Black.

At a hearing last Wednesday, Lord Justice Underhill said Sheikh Mohammed’s legal team argued that Sir Andrew’s decision to publish the judgments was “wrong in law and that the judgments should not be published, if at all, in advance of the welfare hearing” later in March.

Dubai Future Champions Festival – Day Two – Newmarket Racecourse
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, centre (Tim Goode/PA)

The judge added that Sheikh Mohammed’s appeal – which “raises questions both about what is in the best interests of the children and about how to balance that, if necessary, against the right of the press to report matters of public interest” – was opposed by Princess Haya, the independent guardian “appointed by the court to represent the children’s interests”, and by a number of media organisations.

Princess Haya, who became Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife in 2004, reportedly fled Dubai last year.