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6 Oct, 2023 16:31

UK court backs exiled royal over accusations from former lover

Spain’s Juan Carlos I was accused of spying on and intimidating a Danish businesswoman
UK court backs exiled royal over accusations from former lover

Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I has succeeded in having a $154 million lawsuit from an ex-lover thrown out of a British court. The woman claimed that the disgraced monarch tried to involve her in a tax-avoidance scheme and harassed her at home.

Juan Carlos was sued by Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, a Danish businesswoman with whom he had an affair. Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn claimed that the former king gifted her $68 million in 2012 to hide the sum from tax authorities, then becoming abusive when she refused to give him access to the money. 

Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn alleged that Juan Carlos then had her phone monitored, had gunmen shoot at CCTV cameras outside her home, and arranged to have a book alleging that British intelligence agents killed Princess Diana placed inside the property as a warning of sorts. Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn sought $154 million in damages from her former partner.

The case was dismissed at London's High Court on Friday, with Justice Rowena Collins Rice ruling that Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn could not prove she was harassed on British territory. Furthermore, as Juan Carlos resides in the United Arab Emirates, the judge declared that he could not be sued in the UK.

Juan Carlos denies ever harassing Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, and a spokesperson for the former monarch said that Friday’s ruling “unsurprisingly confirms his innocence.” Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn said that she was “deeply disappointed” with the decision and is considering further legal options.

The harassment case was one of several scandals that Juan Carlos has battled since abdicating the throne in 2014. Amid declining public popularity and outrage over a lavish elephant-hunting trip to Botswana, the monarch passed power to his son, Prince Felipe.

Juan Carlos fled Spain to Abu Dhabi in 2020 after a corruption investigation was opened against him. This investigation was subsequently dropped, along with a probe into his alleged use of credit cards linked with foreign bank accounts. The former king settled another tax fraud investigation in 2021, paying the Spanish government $4.9 million.

The dismissal of the harassment suit ends the final legal case against Juan Carlos and paves the way for him to return to public life, even though he has returned to Spain on several occasions since 2014 to take part in sailing competitions.

"Today's decision, favourable to His Majesty, re-establishes the conditions necessary for further public appearances,” his spokesperson said in a statement.