AFL 2021: Hannah Mouncey, transgender footballer, legal action against AFL, wants to play local footy, trans rights, latest news


Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey is planning legal action against the AFL and its Gender Diversity Policy in an attempt to play top-level local footy in Canberra.

Mouncey was not allowed to enter the AFLW draft in 2017, but was permitted to play at VFLW level. She now says she has no desire to play at AFLW level and is seeking to play at first-grade level in the ACT.

On Friday night, Mouncey confirmed she will begin legal proceedings – unless the issue can be resolved – based on her concerns around the AFL’s new policy revealed last October.

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The three requirements in the new policy are:

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Transgender footballer Hannah Mouncey set to take legal action against the AFL in bid to play for Ainslie in Canberra


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“There are certain questions that need to be answered before anyone would go through any sort of process,” Mouncey said.

Her questions relate to the transparency of the process, how the information and data will be used and who might sit on the AFL gender diversity policy committee which is to be used to resolve disputes under the policy.

Mouncey told The Age on Saturday she made her intention to take legal action public after receiving what she considered an unsatisfactory response from the league on Friday afternoon, with the legal action to be submitted in Canberra if a resolution is not reached.

Under the policy transgender athletes can make applications to play in the elite competitions including AFLW and state league competitions for the AFL’s Gender Diversity Committee to consider.

The AFL outlined in October’s policy that the committee considering applications would be drawn from representatives with skills in women’s football operations; inclusion and social policy; risk; legal; medicine and mental health; and anti-doping rules.

If an application is rejected it remains confidential unless the applicant makes the decision public and applicants can have decisions reviewed within seven days if a cause for review is proved.

Under the AFL’s gender diversity policy applicants need to fulfil three criteria to be declared eligible to play in elite competitions.

The three requirements are:

1. Testosterone levels to have been at or below five nmol/L for at least two years prior.
2. If that threshold is met, trans women and non-binary people may nominate for the AFLW draft or apply to play in other elite competitions by providing information regarding their height, weight, bench press, 20-metre sprint, vertical jump, GPS data and two-kilometre time trial.
3. If the application is approved, the player is required to maintain their total testosterone levels below five nmol/L, and may be required to undergo periodic testing.

The League can also assess safety issues that may be relevant.

Mouncey said if the matters she raised were addressed she would be prepared to submit an application although she questioned why information such as bench press, 20m sprints and vertical jumps were necessary to inform decisions.

She claimed the AFL’s approach has been legalistic rather than appearing open to a resolution.

“I’m happy to mediate with them, I am happy to talk through them what the issues are. I am happy to go through the process but they have never done it in good faith,” Mouncey said.

The AFL was contacted for comment. AFL Canberra’s first-grade women’s competition is due to start in May.

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Uni pursues ‘legal rights’ to stop Urrbrae gatehouse demolition


The University of Adelaide says it has yet to receive a formal notice from the State Government of its intention to acquire land and bulldoze the historic Urrbrae gatehouse for an intersection upgrade, as it vows to “pursue its legal rights” to stop the takeover and demolition.

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It comes as the Opposition accuses the State Government of a secret plan to make Cross Road the main connector for freight from the South Eastern Freeway to the North South Corridor – but the Transport Minister accuses the Opposition of “lying to the community and fear-mongering”.

Transport Minister Corey Wingard has backed a Transport Department decision to demolish the 130-year-old gatehouse on the corner of Cross Road and Fullarton Road as part of a $61 million upgrade of the intersection – despite advice that it’s possible to move the state heritage-listed building.

The gatehouse sits on the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus and is linked to its Urrbrae House historic precinct.

A university spokesperson told InDaily as the landowner it will “pursue its legal rights under the compulsory acquisition process”.

“The University of Adelaide is opposed to the acquisition of Waite campus land and its impact on the heritage of that land and the legacy of Peter Waite,” the spokesperson said.

“The Waite campus, which includes the Waite Arboretum, is held in perpetuity by the University and is a South Australian treasure.”

The spokesperson said the university would “continue to make representations to government and the community about the need to protect the Waite heritage and the legacy of Peter Waite”.

“The University has yet to receive formal written notification from the State of its intention to acquire a portion of the land on our campus,” the spokesperson said.

Opposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis called on Wingard to “come out and tell us will he use his acquisition powers under the Act or will this be a negotiated settlement?”

He said the university “can absolutely fight it in the Supreme Court but the power is pretty clear in the Act that the minister has the power to compulsorily acquire it for a road so I’m not sure it would be successful”.

“Why don’t they just try and find a way of negotiating the settlement that pleases everyone,” he said.

“There’s plenty of scope within the budget to move it if they need to. All the risk is being borne by the contractors – I’m not quite sure why they’ve cut it off.”

Local firm Mammoth Movers has quoted under a million dollars to relocate the building, saying it’s “100 per cent feasible” and that it could be done without any damage.

However, transport officials have said the costs to the taxpayer would be around $3 million, and that relocating the building would “degrade its heritage value”.

Koutsantonis accused the Government of working on a secret plan to turn Cross Road into the main connector for freight from the South Eastern Freeway to South Road and the North South Corridor.

“It must be because they’ve chosen Cross Road to be the connector to the North South Corridor because it’s the cheapest option but they don’t want to tell their voters in safe Liberal seats and marginal Liberal seats like Elder that this is their plan,” he said.

Cross Rd traffic. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

But Wingard said “Labor is again lying to the community and fear-mongering”.

“Trucks, including B-doubles, already use Cross Road and have done so for years when freight needs to get to the airport or moved around our suburbs to supermarkets, which is why we’re investing to improve safety unlike Labor who ignored vital road upgrades,” he said.

“The former Labor Government left the cupboard bare in terms of planning for future projects, including upgrades to Cross Road, and once again we’re fixing their mess.”

Wingard said the Government was investing in a freight bypass “to encourage more trucks to divert around the back of the hills and avoid the down track of the South Eastern Freeway and Cross Road”.

“We’ve already begun works on the $12 million freight bypass that was announced as a COVID stimulus project last year so Labor should stop lying to the community,” he said.

InDaily asked Wingard if he was reconsidering the decision to demolish the gatehouse.

A spokesperson said the government “is in continued discussions with the University of Adelaide about the future of the Gatehouse and community consultation regarding improving heritage outcomes will begin soon”.

“The University has the same legal avenues under the property acquisition legislation as other property owners,” the spokesperson said.

“The State Government will continue to work with all stakeholders and the community regarding improving heritage assets.”

The spokesperson also said “a planning study is underway in regards to Cross Road as well as a host of other road corridors”.

“Last year we announced $10 million to undertake a number of planning studies which had been ignored by Labor,” the spokesperson said.

A Transport Department spokesman said “in regard to Cross Road, these studies are still in the planning phase” and “there are no further details at this stage”.

“The South Australian Government has recently announced a suite of planning works to be undertaken to determine potential infrastructure upgrades on key arterial roads, intersections and transport corridors, as well as public transport infrastructure improvements across South Australia,” the spokesperson said.

“Among the planning studies to be investigated are potential improvements for public transport on main roads across Adelaide and road corridor plans for a number of corridors on the network, including Portrush Road and Cross Road.

“The GlobeLink Planning Study identified other possible options to link road freight with the North-South Corridor, which the Government committed to explore in the long term.”

The spokesperson said as a first step to this process the department had recently commissioned a planning study “to inform future strategic development of High Productivity Vehicle networks”.

“This will include matters such as the connectivity between the South Eastern Freeway and the North-South Corridor and further potential to increase capacity on the North-South freight route between Murray Bridge and the Sturt Highway,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the intersection upgrade at Cross Road and Fullarton Road “forms part of a suite of projects aimed at addressing congested locations on the network”.

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Mills Oakley launches pro bono national online legal service



Several major corporate legal teams have locked in behind the launch of a national free legal service spearheaded by national law firm Mills Oakley.

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Mining company faces $5 million legal action



WA mining exploration company Cockatoo Iron is facing legal action for allegedly failing to repay almost $5 million in loans.

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Quarantine Plans For The Australian Open Suffered Major Blow After Legal Threats Of Residents

Unfortunate news came as residents threatened to take legal action following the plans to use the Westin hotel to quarantine international players for the Australian Open. Thus, this arrangement has been scrapped by authorities.

This sparked a major dilemma as the players are due to arrive at the Melbourne hotel in 10 days to begin their 14 days of hotel quarantine. Upon knowing this, apartment owners are outraged and said they feared for their safety due to being in close contact with hundreds of potentially infectious tennis stars.

As of now, there are a total of 36 people who permanently live in penthouse apartments at the Collins Street hotel claiming they were not appropriately consulted about the plans for the building to be a quarantine site.

Today, Police Minister Lisa Neville confirmed that a different hotel will now be used to quarantine tennis players and their associates prior to the tournament.

As per Ms Neville “We didn’t want to end up in a fight with a key partner that we’ve used in the past. We have secured a different hotel for the AO which will start being stood up today and tomorrow.”

She added that the Victorian Government became aware of the residents’ concerns just last Sunday. “This is about having goodwill with hotel partners. We were also aware it may have delayed the start of the Australian Open. All hotels will be announced next week when they’re gazetted.”

Despite numerous backlashes from residents, Acting Premier Jacinta Allan defended the choice of the hotel yesterday, as she asserted that players and their team would be kept separate to residents.

“The Westin, like every venue, went through a rigorous assessment, very strict infection prevention measures have been put in place in all of the venues,” she said. “There are separate entrances, there are separate floors, there are floor monitors on every floor, there is 24/7 Victoria Police presence associated with every venue.”

On a separate statement, Tennis Australia said that the Australian Open team had been working extensively with the CQV to look for suitable quarantine hotel options in Melbourne. Hence, the hotel used for quarantine is decided by CQV and is said to be closely safe.

Tennis Australia in a statement said, “Several hotels in Melbourne have already been secured, including a replacement for the Westin, to safely accommodate the international playing group and their team members as well as allow for them to properly prepare for the first Grand Slam of the year.”

Amid the claims, Tennis Australia is set to adjust to prioritize the health and safety of everyone.

(Image source: ABC News)

Legal dispute at The Westin Melbourne quarantine hotel threatens Australian Open


Under the plan, all international players will be required to quarantine for 14 days at the Westin but will be permitted to leave the hotel for one daily block of five hours for practice and treatment. During quarantine, they will be tested for COVID-19 at least five times and will be supervised while practising at Melbourne Park.

The Andrews government signed off on the deal on December 18 but apartment owners were notified by email only on December 23. They insist they never agreed to the plan, despite holding legal rights to about 30 per cent of some common areas within the hotel.

Novak Djokovic during last year’s Australian Open final.Credit:AP

Several influential corporate figures own private apartments in the building, including prominent businessman Tony Schiavello, Andrew Bertocchi from the smallgoods empire, and property developer David Marriner, who built the Westin in 2000.

Retired investment manager Mark Nicholson said he was astounded by the lack of consultation, after learning of the plan to use the hotel as a quarantine facility two days before Christmas.

“It’s incredibly arrogant to ambush us this way as if it’s a done deal. There are substantive public health and legal issues that have not even been examined,” he said.

Mr Nicholson, who has owned an apartment in the Westin building for more 15 years, backed a bid by the owners’ corporation to consider all legal avenues, including a Supreme Court injunction.

Property developer David Marriner owns an apartment in the Westin.

Property developer David Marriner owns an apartment in the Westin.Credit:Jessica Shapiro

He said the dispute could not be resolved with a financial settlement to the owners, before urging the Andrews government and Tennis Australia to “take a step back” and find an alternative venue to quarantine players.

“If we’re prepared to take this very substantial risk by hosting the Australian Open, then it needs to be done in the safest way possible and you obviously wouldn’t be picking a hotel that is integrated with residential apartments. It’s not like it’s the only hotel in Melbourne,” Mr Nicholson said.

Hotelier Digby Lewis, who has owned a penthouse in the Westin since 2002, accused authorities of endangering public health by proceeding with the tournament.

“At 84, I’m in the vulnerable group and it’s shocking the way they tried to ram this through without any attempt to consult with us. I’m more than happy to toss in $10,000 or $20,000 to help the legal fight; it’s bloody shocking,” Mr Lewis said.

Prominent businessman Tony Schiavello.

Prominent businessman Tony Schiavello.Credit:Paul Jones

On December 31, lawyers acting for the owners’ corporation notified the hotel’s general manager, Stephen Ferringo, of its concerns and requested the quarantine agreement and any emergency management plan relating to the proposal.

Lawyer Graeme Efron said he had instructions from the owners to seek an injunction in the Supreme Court or the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if the hotel failed to respond to the request.

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Mr Efron said he was unable to obtain any information from the government, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Justice Department or Tennis Australia, particularly in regard to what measures had been taken to mitigate risks to permanent residents in the building.

“One breach could lock up the whole city. It’s interesting that we won’t let anyone in from NSW, but we’re happy to allow people from high-risk countries to come to Melbourne to play tennis.”

Mr Ferringo told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald on Sunday that the owners corporation had been informed of the arrangement with Tennis Australia and the COVID-safe plan had been shared with apartment owners.

Under the arrangements, the existing residents at The Westin Melbourne will have no contact with CQV [COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria] staff or guests and will use a separate entrance and lifts. Their floor will remain exclusive while there will be no reticulation of ventilation between the floors,” he said.

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Tennis Australia did not respond to questions from this masthead on Sunday. However, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has previously explained the quarantine process in a bid to allay public concerns.

All overseas players will be tested for COVID-19 before they board chartered flights for Australia and then be tested at least five times while they are in quarantine.

“They will be transported from the hotel, which is the only assigned hotel for players, and will be brought to the courts for no more than five hours a day and for 14 days they’ll be able to do that,” Mr Tiley said last month.

“They’ll only be able to go between the hotel room and the courts under a high-secure environment.”

A government spokesman said COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria was working closely with Tennis Australia regarding quarantine arrangements for the Australian Open.

“All decisions on quarantine for the Australian Open will be guided by public health advice,” the spokesman said.

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Aged-care mogul facing legal action lists Toorak mansion, leaves for Greece


The Irving Road mansion is registered in the name of his Maserati-driving wife, and could fetch up to $40 million.

Several grieving families who lost elderly relatives in the Epping Gardens outbreak have demanded that the care-home mogul return to Australia to “face the music”.

Mr Arvanitis and business partner Tony Antonopoulos each own a 50 per cent stake in Heritage Care Pty Ltd, which has a portfolio of 10 aged care homes in Sydney and Melbourne, including the embattled Epping Gardens facility.

Areti Arvanitis with her Maserati, and Epping Gardens co-owner Tony Antonopoulos and his wife, Stacey.Credit:

When Mr Arvanitis departed for Greece, he chose not to inform anyone at Heritage Care of his travel plans. Even Heritage Care chief executive Greg Reeve was unaware Mr Arvanitis had left the country.

“I did not inform Greg Reeve as my personal business has nothing to do with Heritage Care. I do not have an executive or board role in Heritage Care, and my investment is passive. My private business has nothing to do with any employee of Heritage Care,” Mr Arvanitis said.

The Arvanitises' opulent home was featured in Vogue Living.

The Arvanitises’ opulent home was featured in Vogue Living.Credit:Instagram

He resigned as a director of Heritage Care in September, when media attention on his vast wealth and opulent lifestyle became a “distraction to the good work of the staff”.

Of the private listing of his mansion, Mr Arvanitis said: “Although I am not actively looking to sell, everything has a price and only for a significant premium.

“If I was to sell, I have several properties in Toorak and interstate I could move into. My history in real estate demonstrates this as I have sold over 60 properties in the last five years.”

The property featured in the March edition of Vogue Living, which gushed about the “gluttonous trappings of wealth within a classical framework”.

The couple's Toorak residence.

The couple’s Toorak residence.Credit:Instagram

Ms Arvanitis’ bedroom was described as a “first-floor boudoir that is off-the-charts big, fitted with banks of Gucci-filled cabinets and furnished with one-of-a-kind art and objects commissioned by the Italian fashion house in esteem of her patronage”.

Mr Arvanitis, who joined Heritage Care in January 2019, was the founder and one-time director of listed for-profit nursing home giant Estia. He sold his shareholding in 2016 for $55 million and quit the company after it hit trouble. In 2018, he also sold a shopping centre and a thoroughbred horse breeding farm, netting another $21 million.

“My property business history is I acquire, construct and sell or reposition,” he said.

Mr Arvanitis’ extended stay in Greece has incensed many victims of Epping Gardens, where 103 residents tested positive to COVID-19 and 86 staff also became infected, amid mounting evidence of inadequate staffing and poor care at the facility.

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Sam Agnello, who is lead plaintiff in a class action involving Heritage Care, said he had never received any offer of condolences or an apology from the owners of the company, or its management team.

Mr Agnello’s mother, Carmela, 92, contracted COVID-19 at Epping Gardens in July and died within three days of being admitted to hospital.

“[Mr Arvanitis] has never taken any responsibility or shown any compassion. We want him to come back to Melbourne and face up to the families who have been destroyed by this,” Mr Agnello said.

The deadly outbreak at Epping Gardens remains under investigation by WorkSafe and the State Coroner, who is being assisted by police detectives. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner is also assessing Epping Gardens’ fitness to hold accreditation as an aged care facility.

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Last week, an independent review by Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adjunct Professor Alan Lilly found that conditions at Epping Gardens and St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Fawkner had deteriorated to an appalling level during the crisis.

“These stark numbers do not begin to convey the trauma and grief suffered by all residents, whether or not they developed COVID-19, and the enormous impact on families,” the review found.

Both facilities were found to have been inadequately prepared for emergencies and lacking in infection prevention and control procedures, while a surge workforce sent in to help had never worked in aged care and was “unsure what to do”.

In September, The Age revealed that Epping Gardens had slashed staffing at the beginning of Victoria’s second COVID-19 wave and had allegedly instructed some workers to delay getting tested, or keep working while awaiting results.

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Internal emails revealed “instructions by management” to cut carers’ shifts in the weeks before coronavirus swept through the home. At one point, just six carers were rostered on to care for 80 vulnerable residents.

Grieving families and former staff have launched civil action against Heritage Care, alleging the company failed its duty of care.

At the time, Carbone Lawyers managing partner Tony Carbone said: “These breaches are so grave that no responsible management team could have allowed them to happen, particularly considering the vulnerability of the residents.”

He said cutting hours for carers during a pandemic was “gross mismanagement and negligence” and needed to be thoroughly investigated.

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The United Arab Emirates is trying to rebrand its image by making changes to its ‘antiquated’ legal system


Like many expatriates in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Australian Frances McGregor thinks Dubai is a modern and glamorous place to call home.

This is a city that boasts the world’s tallest building, the world’s largest shopping mall, a water park just for dogs, and traffic jams comprised entirely of luxury European cars.

It has long sold itself to Westerners as a liberal outpost in the Middle East, where you could wear bikinis on the beach and drink in bars and restaurants.

But for Ms McGregor, the case of a young Filipina waitress who was raped on her way home from work punctured that glittering facade.

Australian Frances McGregor says she still remembers a case in the UAE where a victim was treated like the criminal.(ABC News: Shaikh Saleh)

The woman reported what happened to police but ended up being jailed the next day. Ms McGregor, whose company employed the woman, tried to intervene.

“So the victim there was treated like the criminal.”

The woman had been jailed for breaking a ban on sex outside of marriage, one of many women in the Gulf state who were charged after reporting sexual assault, according to human rights groups.

The laws made headlines in 2016, when a British woman was charged in Dubai after reporting her own rape. The case was later dropped after an international outcry.

The UAE also forbid couples from living together or even sharing a hotel room if they were not married.

But now, sex outside marriage is no longer a criminal offence in the UAE — unless it is adultery, which remains a serious crime.

The change was part of a major shakeup of personal and family law announced suddenly by the UAE’s Government in November.

Construction workers on a roof in a desert locale
About 90 per cent of people in Dubai are foreigners, many of them low paid workers from Bangladesh and Pakistan.(Reuters: Christopher Pike)

What triggered this progressive overhaul is unclear, but it may be an attempt to lure back the foreign workers who fled the Gulf state in droves due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Low paid foreign workers from Bangladesh and Pakistan may be willing to go back to toil on construction sites and as maids in private homes.

But UAE authorities — who are preparing to host a deferred World Expo in 2021 — appear worried rich Westerners may not return.

‘To have such antiquated laws, it just doesn’t match’

Despite Dubai and Abu Dhabi being flashy, modern cities, the UAE had a conservative legal system based on Islamic law.

But Dubai residents say proposed changes to the country’s laws are a significant shift.

“Dubai is a really fast-moving, forward-thinking, progressive city and to have such antiquated laws, it just doesn’t match,” Ms McGregor said.

“So they have to do something to operate in a global market, get foreign investors.”

A fake mountain-like rock is seen behind a string of women in black hijabs watching on as their children climb the rock.
The UAE has largely maintained its status as a desirable destination for expats and investors.(Reuters: Satish Kumar)

Among the reforms are changes to personal and family laws which will allow foreigners to settle divorce and inheritance using the laws of their home country.

It was welcomed by expatriates, who make up nearly 90 per cent of the UAE’s population, and comes after years of high-profile cases of expatriates falling foul of the arcane system.

These include the jailing of Australian property executives Matt Joyce and Marcus Lee for fraud charges, of which they were later acquitted.

The pandemic saw a mass exodus of expats

The UAE has largely maintained its status as a desirable destination for expats and investors despite these incidents.

A man in a dishdashi sitting in an ice bar with a drink in his gloved hand
Alcohol will be decriminalised as part of reforms designed to make UAE more attractive to foreigners.(Reuters: Ahmed Jadallah)

But many have lost their jobs in the coronavirus downturn, with economic forecasts predicting things will get worse.

The UAE recently introduced a retiree visa in a bid to attract new foreign residents.

Lawyer Radha Stirling, who founded the advocacy group Detained in Dubai, said the fear of losing expats and investors has triggered the legal reforms.

“It’s a marketing facade,” she said.

Other changes — such as removing a prohibition on having alcohol in your bloodstream in public and decriminalising suicide — will also benefit the UAE’s residents.

“I think it really shows an open-mindedness for this country and it shows that it’s really looking at the people who are living here,” said Majella Skansebakken, an Australian who has lived with her family in Dubai for four years.

“It’s accepting them and it’s respecting them.”

A woman wearing a black and white top smiles with her arms around two kids outside a house.
Majella Skansebakken, an Australian who has lived with her family in Dubai for four years, says the changes to the laws show “open-mindedness”.(ABC News: Shaikh Saleh)

The UAE has also increased penalties for sexual harassment and domestic violence in a bid to improve the treatment of women and also removed ‘defending family honour’ as a legal defence for the assault of women.

But it may have to do more to reverse years of negative attention on this issue.

Just this year, a 32-year-old British woman working for a literary festival alleged the UAE’s Minister for Tolerance had sexually assaulted her at a business meeting on a private island.

He denied the allegations and was not charged.

How Princesses helped expose the UAE’s dark side

Women within the Royal family have also been coming forward with their own complaints about abuse.

While the UAE Government said these incidents related to “private family issues”, they have highlighted problems for Emirati women in particular.

Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum and his wife Princess Haya walk towards the paddock dressed for the races.
A legal battle between the powerful ruler of Dubai and his estranged wife led to a showdown in a London courtroom.(AP: Alastair Grant, File)

In 2018, the Emirate of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum allegedly used Emirati and Indian commandos to kidnap his daughter, Princess Latifa, when she tried to escape the country on a yacht.

Sheikh Mohammed said Latifa was now “safe in the loving care of her family and had never been arrested or detained”.

But her case is being investigated by the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

Then came the shock departure of Princess Haya, Sheikh Mohammed’s sixth wife, who fled to London with their two children.

She went on to win a high-profile lawsuit where London’s High Court heard evidence about his treatment of his female children.

Princess Haya laughs during interview
Princess Haya bint al-Hussein is the daughter of Jordan’s late King Hussein.(Reuters)

The judge eventually ruled Sheikh Mohammed had kidnapped Latifa and another daughter, Shamsa, and continues to detain them.

Another Royal, Princess Zeynab, recently livestreamed a police raid on her house after a marital dispute.

Lawyer Radha Stirling said the high-profile cases showed that even if laws protected women, the prevailing culture ensured they were not followed.

“They’re not setting a good example.”



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LeBron James, photographer, legal battle, social media image


When you’re the biggest name and most recognisable face in one of the world’s biggest sports, you’re bound to have your photo taken hundreds of times a night.

But whether that gives you the right to use those photos on your personal social media is the point of contention in an increasingly bitter legal battle between NBA superstar LeBron James and a courtside photographer.

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An image of James dunking on the Miami Heat’s Meyers Leonard on December 13 last year is at the centre of the dispute.

It was a side-on dunk and James reportedly captioned the image “What. A.Time. To. Be. Alive and I’m LIVING with Pure Joy! Thank you” followed by a basketball emoji.

Post-match, James posted it on Instagram and Facebook without photographer Steve Mitchell’s consent.

It’s similar to the lawsuit facing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson after he posted an image on Instagram without permission.

TMZ Sport reported in March that Mitchell filed a claim in court asking for any money made off the post or $150,000 for each time James used the image.

But according to The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan, James has countersued and is seeking $1 million and lawyer fees from Mitchell.

James has argued that the photographer illegally used the images on his website to promote his photo service.

“Only after our client was sued for copyright infringement for alleged use of a single photo – which we have consistently tried to settle for a reasonable amount – did we file this countersuit upon learning the photographer was making unlawful use of photographs of our client on his website to advertise and promote his photography services business,” a statement attributed to James’ counsel Howard Shire read via The Athletic.

“We continue to try to resolve this matter amicably. We have no interest whatsoever in ultimately obtaining any amounts from the plaintiff.”

Copyright lawyer Josh Gerben admitted James may have a point as the photographer is using a picture of the NBA superstar to promote his services.

After a hearing on Monday, Judge George Wu called for both parties to get together and settle the case between themselves.

A ruling is expected in the next week.

But LeBron has more pressing matters at hand.

After receiving his NBA title ring but copping a loss against the LA Clippers on opening night, James should be in action for the Lakers against the Mavericks on Boxing Day (AEDT).

He rolled his ankle against the Clippers but has said he’d be all right to play Dallas in the Christmas Day clash.



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