Dubai’s ruler authorised the hacking of the phones of his ex-wife, Princess Haya, and her lawyers during a legal battle over their two children, the UK’s High Court has found.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, 72, gave his “express or implied authority” for the phone of his sixth wife to be infiltrated with multimillion-pound spyware, Pegasus, during the ongoing legal case, the court ruled.

The vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) also authorised the use of Pegasus on her solicitors, her personal assistant and two members of her security team, it was found.

The use of the spyware, which is manufactured by the NSO Group and sold exclusively to nation-states, came to light in August 2020 when the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair, Cherie Blair, told Princess Haya’s solicitor, Baroness Shackleton, that she may have been hacked, the court heard.

On Wednesday, the High Court published a number of rulings in the ongoing case between Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya, the half-sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan, over their two children, Al Jalila, 13, and Zayed, nine.

Sheikh Mohammed has denied all allegations of hacking.

He said in a statement: “I have always denied the allegations made against me and I continue to do so. These matters concern supposed operations of State security.

“As a Head of Government involved in private family proceedings, it was not appropriate for me to provide evidence on such sensitive matters either personally or via my advisers in a foreign court. Neither the Emirate of Dubai nor the UAE are party to these proceedings and they did not participate in the hearing.

“The findings are therefore inevitably based on an incomplete picture.

“In addition, the findings were based on evidence that was not disclosed to me or my advisers. I, therefore, maintain that they were made in a manner which was unfair.

“I ask that the media respect the privacy of our children and do not intrude into their lives in the UK.”

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