Dubai ruler tries to stop publishing of children's welfare case judgment

By: AFP      Published: 10:44 PM, 3 Mar, 2020
Dubai ruler tries to stop publishing of children's welfare case judgment

Dubai's ruler is challenging a London court decision to publish judgments relating to a legal battle with his estranged wife over their children's welfare, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.

Britain's highest court said it had received "an application for permission to appeal" from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum in the case.

"This application arises out of proceedings relating to the welfare of two children, principally the arrangements for contact with their father," the court said in a statement.

"Their parents are the ruler of the Emirate of Dubai and vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and his former wife. The issue that the Supreme Court is asked to decide is whether two judgments given by the president of the Family Division (of the High Court) in those proceedings should be published."

The application will be heard by three judges. No date was given for the hearing. Sheikh Mohammed, 70, applied to the High Court for the summary return to Dubai of his two children with Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 45, who is the half-sister of Jordan's King Abdullah II.

She applied for them to be made wards of the court and one of the children to be made subject to a forced marriage protection order. Princess Haya, an Olympic equestrian competitor who is reportedly Sheikh Mohammed's sixth wife, applied for a separate non-molestation order for herself.

A forced marriage protection order can be used to help someone who is being forced into marriage or who has been subjected to one, according to the British government. They can be sought by the person in question, a relevant third party or anyone else with the permission of the court.

The orders can stop a person from being taken out of Britain for a marriage to which they have not consented. Three judges at the Court of Appeal last week dismissed Sheikh Mohammed's claim that judge Andrew McFarlane should not publish two rulings in the case, which was heard in private.

McFarlane presides over the family division of the High Court of England and Wales. Appeal court judge Nicholas Underhill said Princess Haya and several media organisations opposed a further challenge to the decision to the Supreme Court by the sheikh, who is the founder of the successful Godolphin horse racing stable.

But he gave him until Tuesday to apply for permission to take the appeal to Britain's apex court. Underhill said the appeal "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".

Reporting restrictions on McFarlane's rulings remain in place until the Supreme Court gives its judgment.