Europe

Former Spanish king wins appeal in ex-lover’s UK harassment case

Former Spanish king Juan Carlos on Tuesday won a bid to block part of a harassment lawsuit brought against him in a London court by his ex-lover.

The ex-king, 84, is being accused by Danish entrepreneur Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn of directing an ongoing harassment campaign against her since 2012 – a claim Juan Carlos staunchly denies.

The lawyers of the former sovereign told the Court of Appeal in London last month that any allegations of harassment prior to his abdication in 2014 are covered by immunity.

Sayn-Wittgenstein’s legal team, on the contrary, maintain that the acts of harassment were private and performed in the service of Juan Carlos’s “hidden agenda”.

On Tuesday, the court granted him an appeal, with Judge Ingrid Simler saying in a written ruling: “The pre-abdication conduct alleged is immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of this country.”

She added that any alleged pre-abdication acts carried out by General Sanz Roldán, the then-head of Spain’s CNI intelligence agency, were “attributable to the Spanish state”.

“It was only (Juan Carlos’) position as head of state that enabled him to procure the head of the state security service to act in the manner alleged, using the CNI, whatever his private motives, and however abusive they might have been,” Simler said.

Sayn-Wittgenstein’s lawyer Michael Kim from Kobre & Kim wrote in an emailed statement: “Corinna’s claim can now progress towards trial in the High Court in London.”

He added: “The overwhelming part of Corinna’s claim, from 2014, remains unaffected and should proceed to trial. It raises very serious allegations of harassment that have continued over a long period, which will be examined in detail when the trial takes place.”

Juan Carlos’s lawyers have not yet responded to a request for comment.

The former monarch was once held in high esteem for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy following General Franco’s dictatorship. He was nevertheless forced to abdicate eight years ago, following a set of scandals — including his affair with Sayn-Wittgenstein — and has faced fraud-related accusations, which were dropped this March.

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