The ruler of Dubai authorised the hacking of his ex-wife’s phone as well as her lawyers’ with multimillion-pound spyware, the High Court has found.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 72, gave his “express or implied authority” for the phone of his sixth wife Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, 47, to be infiltrated with Pegasus spyware during a legal battle over their two children, the court ruled.
He also authorised the use of Pegasus on Princess Haya’s solicitors, her personal assistant and two members of her security team, it was found.
Use of the spyware, which is manufactured by the NSO Group and sold exclusively to nation states first came to light in August 2020 when Cherie Blair told Princess Haya’s solicitor Baroness Shackleton that she may have been hacked.
Mrs Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and then an NSO adviser, contacted the Conservative peer after she was told that the software may have been “misused”.
NSO told the court it could not disclose who its customers were, but confirmed that an unnamed customer’s contract had been terminated within weeks of the discovery.
On Wednesday, the High Court published a number of rulings in the ongoing case between Sheikh over the former couple’s two children, Al Jalila, 13, and Zayed, 9.
In 2020, Sir Andrew McFarlane, the most senior family judge in England and Wales – found that Sheikh Mohammed “ordered and orchestrated” the abduction and forced return to Dubai of two of his adult daughters, Sheikha Shamsa, 40, in August 2000 and her sister Sheikha Latifa, 35, in 2002 and again in 2018.
In the latest judgments, the High Court made more findings against Sheikh Mohammed, including that the multimillion-pound spyware Pegasus had been used on his estranged wife’s phone with his “express or implied authority”.