Charlotte Street Partners



Britain’s biggest divorce

Written by Katie Armour, senior associate
Edited by Adam Shaw, associate partner

22 December 2021 

Good morning,

Justice Moor handed down the biggest divorce settlement in British legal history yesterday. Princess Haya of Jordan, the estranged wife of the leader of Dubai, was awarded a staggering £554m, with just under half of it to be paid in a lump sum by the end of March.

Haya fled Dubai, and her husband, in April 2019 after 15 years of marriage. She cited personal threats, fears for her children and concern about the Sheikh’s two missing daughters – Latifa and Shamsa – as reasons for leaving in a hurry.

Since then Haya has been residing between her Kensington Palace property and her main home in the town of Egham, in Surrey.

The details of the funding allocations in the couple’s divorce settlement make for an eyewatering read. The description of each financial order exudes excessive wealth, but the bulk of them make provisions for security for Haya and her children across the aforementioned locations and when they travel.

So severe are the threats against her perceived to be that £64,000 has been earmarked for “ballistics blankets and shields” and reports note a fleet of armoured cars may be shipped abroad alongside them wherever they go.

On the lighter side, the settlement also sets aside £13.5m for jewellery, £5m for horses, £40,000 to replace two sunken trampolines abandoned in Dubai, and reveals that one summer the couple spent £2m on strawberries. Haya’s request for the cost of a car collection for her 9-year-old son didn’t make it however, largely because he can’t yet drive.

The 72-year-old Sheikh is estimated to be worth around £10bn so this is just a fraction of his fortune. However, it’s still significant and, more importantly, symbolic.

In the verdict Moor said that the trial had given a rare insight into a “a truly opulent and unprecedented standard of living”. But the stunning stream of riches isn’t where “unprecedented” starts and ends when it comes to this case.

Among other considerations, Moor noted the attention he had paid to each party’s conduct and in this field the Sheikh had due cause to worry.

The brazen kidnap of his daughter Shamsa off the streets of Cambridge in 2000 and the kidnap and imprisonment of his other daughter, Latifa, in 2018 gave credence to Haya’s calls for major security support. The Sheikh’s refusal to testify and attempts to buy Haya’s neighbour’s house similarly factored.

Perhaps most interestingly of all, the Sheikh was exposed as having used undetectable state spyware, Pegasus, to hack the phones of Haya, her security team, staff and legal representatives, including the famed Baroness Shackleton (Prince Charles’ divorce lawyer). In a strange tale that seems more spy thriller than family court case, it was in fact Cherie Blair who informed them of the infiltration.

Speaking after the judgement was published, a representative for the Sheikh did not contest the figures and said he had no intention of causing harm to his wife. So, at this point it appears he’ll pay it. But this is a man who has, over recent years, displayed a scant regard for the rule of law.

Upholding this judgement and ensuring Haya and her children can live safely in this country should now be seen as a matter for our national credibility.

The police have taken a perplexing lack of action on the kidnap of a woman on British soil and there are calls for an inquiry into the Foreign Office’s alleged role in stymying investigations. That can’t be repeated.

The days when the Sheikh could merrily appear in the royal box at Ascot alongside the Queen while his daughters remained missing seem thankfully long gone. But the Sheikh still frequents his stately home in Surrey and expansive estate in the Highlands with regularity, so it seems we have some searching questions to ask about the not-so-high expectations we have of our visitors.


Boris Johnson confirmed yesterday evening that there will be no further covid restrictions introduced in England before Christmas as there is “not enough evidence” to justify them. He did, however, warn that the situation remains finally balanced and could not rule out new measures ahead of new year. The self-isolation period has also been cut from 10 days to seven by providing negative lateral flow tests on day six and seven. Meanwhile Nicola Sturgeon tightened restrictions for large events post-Christmas and cancelled Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland.

The UK’s chief vet, Christine Middlemiss, has urged poultry producers “not to be complacent” about the threat of bird flu. More than two million birds have been culled over the last two months, in part due to poor biosecurity practices. (£)

The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the policing watchdog over its handling of the Downing Street Christmas party allegations. Baroness Jones wrote to the Independent Office for Police Conduct to raise concerns about the absence of an investigation and questioning whether the force had been “aiding and abetting a criminal offence”.

Business and economy

The £4bn takeover deal of Selfridges by Thailand’s Central Group and Austria’s Signa Group is reportedly close to being announced. The department store is currently owned by the Canadian Weston family but the sale is likely to be agreed before the new year. (£)

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced the establishment of a new £1bn fund to help businesses hit by the rise of omicron, particularly in the leisure and hospitality sectors. Businesses will be able to apply for up to £6,000 per premises and £30m will be made available to help theatres and museums.

Rising tennis star Emma Radacanu has struck an endorsement deal with British Airways. The 18-year-old, who is also the new face of Tiffany, announced the partnership yesterday in the wake of winning the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award. (£)

Columns of note

Rachel Sylvester writes in The Times that women are “turning away from the Tories” because of “outrage at covid hypocrisy” over the Downing Street parties. Citing a new YouGov poll she suggests that 42% of female voters now favour Labour. (£)

Kirsten Sehnbruch argues in The Guardian that now that Gabriel Boric has beaten the far right in Chile it’s time for him to unite the whole country. She talks about his pragmatism and appeal to moderate voters, saying he now needs to work out the practicalities of delivering his promises.


What happened yesterday?

London stocks closed in a positive state on Tuesday after the chancellor announced a fresh new support package to support hospitality and leisure sector businesses impacted by omicron.

The FTSE 100 ended the session up 1.4% at 7,297.41, and the FTSE 250 was also up 1.2% at 22,820.30.

In company news:

It was a positive day for housebuilders, with Barratt, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon all rising after new data from HMRC showed house sales rebounded in November.Asset manager Schroders made gains after it agreed to buy a 75% stake in specialist investment manager Greencoat Capital Holdings for £358m.

What’s happening today?


Final Dividend Payment DateLon.fin&

Interim Dividend Payment DateMurray Inc.tst.Alpha Fin. MktsInvestec

Source: Financial Times

did you know

The shape of individual snowflakes is influenced by the air temperature. Long, thin needle-like ice crystals form at around -2°C, while a lower temperature of -5°C will lead to very flat plate-like crystals. (Source: BBC)

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons 

The House of Commons is in recess. It will next sit on 5 January 2022.

House of Lords 

The House of Lords is in recess. It will next sit on 5 January 2022.

Scottish parliament 

Parliamentary Bureau Motions Portfolio QuestionsJustice and veteransFinance and the economyEducation and skills Ministerial StatementProtecting and improving the water environment Business Motions Parliamentary Bureau Motions Approval of SSIs (if required) Members’ Business DebatePotential for Dumfries City Status

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