Questions have been raised over the role of the British establishment in the disappearance of the daughters of the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum. The ruler of Dubai and vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates allegedly “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction from Cambridge and forced return to Dubai of his daughters Sheikha Shamsa in August 2000 and her sister Sheikha Latifa twice, in 2002 and again in 2018.
The case has been reopened by the British police who announced its decision to launch a review of the 2000 probe into the disappearance of the sisters.
New details emerging from the case has led to calls for an independent inquiry into the roles of the Foreign Office and Cambridgeshire police following the claim that Shamsa had contacted the Cambridgeshire force in 2017 requesting help to secure her release from Dubai, 17 years after she was snatched in Cambridge.
David Haigh, a human rights lawyer, discovered details of the phone call during his investigation to get Shamsa’s abduction reopened. Haigh said a female detective had told him that Shamsa had phoned in 2017 requesting the force’s help.
Haigh revealed details of the phone conversation between a police officer and Shamsa to the Observer: “She [police officer] said ‘I was here when she [Shamsa] called us six months ago’ and I [Haigh] said ‘oh’ and then she said, ‘didn’t you know that?’”
This embarrassing revelation has led to calls for an investigation onto the police itself.
Kate Allen, Amnesty International UK’s director, urged the police to refer itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). “Given the seriousness of the allegations concerning Cambridgeshire police’s due diligence during the investigation into Princess Shamsa’s disappearance, a self-referral to the IOPC is the right course of action,” said Allen.
“It’s of paramount importance that public confidence in the police isn’t undermined by cases like this, not least when there are claims of political interference at the highest levels,” added Allen.
Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesperson, raised questions over the role of the Foreign Office: “The government must now establish an independent inquiry into what role the Foreign Office played in preventing that investigation going ahead. The British people must know who took these decisions and why.”
Radha Stirling, chief executive of Detained in Dubai , who alerted authorities to Latifa’s 2018 abduction and has submitted evidence to the UN and the FBI, also backed an investigation into the Foreign Office’s role, saying: “If it disallowed an investigation into the unlawful abduction of a woman, they have sent a dangerous message to the UAE, essentially sanctioning this behaviour.”
While the British government has insisted that the Foreign Office had no role in the investigation into Shamsa’s abduction or its outcome, according to the Guardian, the Foreign Office has confirmed that it holds information relevant to the investigation, which it refused to disclose to the high court, claiming that it would harm the UK’s relationship with the UAE.