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

The University of Cambridge has broken off talks with the United Arab Emirates over a record £400m collaboration after claims about the Gulf state's use of controversial Pegasus hacking software, the university's vice-chancellor has said.

The proposed deal, hailed by the university in July 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.

But Stephen Toope, Cambridge's outgoing vice-chancellor, 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.

A university spokesperson said it had approached the UAE and other partnerships "with an open mind" and "these are always finely balanced assessments", adding: "We will be reflecting over the next few months before further evaluating our long term options with our partners and with the university community."

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