The detective who tried to investigate a princess’s kidnapping says his inquiry was shut down to save official embarrassment.
David Beck was investigating the 2000 abduction of teenage Princess Shamsa from Cambridge by her father, the ruler of Dubai, when the case was shelved amid alleged meddling from the Foreign Office.
It is claimed that Labour foreign secretary Robin Cook, who died in 2005, was involved in the decision as a ‘diplomatic favour’ to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum.
Cambridgeshire police now say they will review the case following a damning High Court judgment that Sheikh Mohammed, 70, was behind the abduction and forced return to Dubai of his daughter Shamsa, as well as the 2018 kidnap of her sister Latifa.
Sheikh Mohammed, 70, was found to have been behind the abduction and forced return to Dubai of his daughter Shamsa (pictured in an undated photo), as well as the 2018 kidnap of her sister Latifa
Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Robin Cook outside the Houses of Parliament, London, October 1993. It is claimed that Labour foreign secretary Robin Cook, who died in 2005, was involved in the decision as a ‘diplomatic favour’ to Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum
Her Highness Princess Latifa al-Maktoum (pictured) was kidnapped from a boat off the Indian Ocean two years ago
Mr Beck, 65, a retired detective superintendent, said he was not directly aware of political ‘interference’ but he was told that the case was being shelved because of ‘significant sensitivities’. To him that meant ‘someone is going to get embarrassed – well, personal embarrassment is not a reason for withholding the truth,’ he said.
‘Had they said “national security is at risk”, then of course I may have considered differently. But they didn’t. They just said “significant sensitivities”, and I don’t agree with bullying.’
The High Court ruling followed a 10-month custody battle between the sheikh, worth £9 billion, and his sixth and youngest wife, Princess Haya, 45.
He launched the case to demand the ‘summary return’ of his son and daughter but it backfired spectacularly. He lost his children, his wife, and his international standing after Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division, found he had conducted a ‘campaign of fear and intimidation’ against Princess Haya, forcing her to flee to London with their two children last April.
Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (right) and his wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussein arrive for the first day of the Royal Ascot race meeting June 16, 2009
The judge also found the sheikh ‘ordered and orchestrated’ the kidnap of Princess Latifa, who was snatched from a boat in the Arabian Sea in 2018. She and Shamsa are still captive in Dubai.
Sir Andrew said the sheikh’s actions, on balance of probabilities, ran ‘contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales, international law and internationally accepted human rights norms’. The sheikh, who did not attend court, denies any wrongdoing. He repeatedly tried to keep the findings secret but the case was ruled to be in the public interest.
Mr Beck said he had never forgotten the plight of Princess Shamsa, who ran away at 19 because of her father’s oppressive treatment of women and girls.
She fled his Surrey estate, but after weeks on the run she says that after visiting a pub in Cambridge she was grabbed by four of armed heavies, injected with sedatives and taken back to Dubai.
In mid-July 2000 the ‘headstrong’ then 19-year-old princess – reportedly angry her father wouldn’t let her go to university and disgusted by Dubai’s human rights record – evaded high-security at her father’s sprawling Longcross estate (pictured) in Surrey, where the family spent most summers
Yesterday, both Tony Blair, who was prime minister in 2000, and Jack Straw, who became foreign secretary in 2001, denied any knowledge of the case. And Number 10 sources insisted the Foreign Office had ‘no role in the investigation or outcome’. But Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti, shadow attorney general, said: ‘This is clearly a shocking judgment. She called for an urgent probe into ‘why a criminal inquiry into a kidnap in Cambridge appears to have been impeded’.
Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke backed calls for a probe and Kate Allen of Amnesty International said: ‘No one is above the law.’ Announcing a review yesterday, Cambridgeshire Police said their investigations in 2001 and 2017, were called off due to ‘insufficient evidence’.
The British Horseracing Authority faces calls to review the sheikh’s registration. He owns hundreds of horses through his Godolphin stables in Newmarket, Suffolk.