Cambridge University stops £400m deal with UAE over Pegasus spyware claims

10 November 2021

The University of Cambridge has called off talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over a record £400m collaboration after claims about the Gulf state’s use of controversial Pegasus hacking software. A report in the Guardian said the proposed deal, initially hailed by institution as a “potential strategic partnership … helping to solve some of the greatest challenges facing our planet” – would have included the largest donation of its kind in the university’s history, spanning a decade and involving direct investment from the UAE of more than £310m. However, Stephen Toope, the university’s outgoing vicechancellor, said in an interview that no meetings or conversations with UAE were now taking place after revelations related to Pegasus, software that can hack into and secretly take control of a mobile phone.