Spain’s disgraced former king Juan Carlos I had immunity from harassment claims made against him by his former mistress while he was monarch, three Court of Appeal judges in London ruled on Tuesday.
The three appeal judges ruled that the Danish-German socialite and businesswoman, Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein (also known as Corinna Larsen), the former mistress of Juan Carlos, could not sue him for harassment in the English courts for the period while he was on the throne.
They said in a written judgment that he was ‘immune from the jurisdiction’ in England and Wales until his abdication in 2014.
That means that Larsen can still pursue the 84-year-old former monarch in the English courts for his alleged behaviour after that time.
Larsen, who lives in England, has accused Juan Carlos, who now lives in the United Arab Emirates, of spying on and harassing her after their relationship soured in 2012. She is seeking an ‘injunction and damages’ due to ‘a continuous and on-going campaign of harassment’ against her. She claims the campaign began after the ‘break-up of an intimate romantic relationship’, and that the harassment continues to this day.
She filed the harassment suit in London in 2020, alleging Juan Carlos pressured her to return gifts worth €65 million, including works of art and jewellery.
Her legal representatives called Tuesday’s ruling ‘disappointing’, but added it only affected a narrow part of their case.
‘Corinna’s claim can now progress towards trial in the High Court in London,’ said Michael Kim of law firm Kobre & Kim. ‘The judgment applies to a very narrow issue. It concerns only the period when Juan Carlos was the reigning King of Spain. The overwhelming part of Corinna’s claim, from 2014, remains unaffected,’ he added.
Juan Carlos, listed in court under his full name Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria De Borbon y Borbon, has not appeared at hearings so far and strenuously denies any wrongdoing.
In March, the High Court in London fully rejected the former monarch’s claim that English courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case because he had state immunity as a royal.
The background to the claim stems from when Juan Carlos met Corinna in Africa in 2004, when she was involved in organising safaris. The relationship developed romantically, and they remained lovers until 2009, remaining close friends for a while afterwards.
Their relationship only became public after an incident in Botswana in 2012, when Juan Carlos broke a hip in an elephant-hunting trip with Corinna. Two years later, dogged by the scandals and health problems, Juan Carlos abdicated at the age of 76 in favour of his son Felipe VI, who has now distanced himself from his father. Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the United Arab Emirates in 2020. They only recently coincided sitting in the same row at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II in London.
In 2020, after Juan Carlos and Corinna both became subjects of judicial investigations for opaque financial dealings, including assets kept in tax havens, she sued the former monarch, accusing him of allegedly orchestrating threats and ordering unlawful covert and overt surveillance starting in 2012, after she declined to rekindle the relationship.
ALSO READ: Corinna claims in podcast that Juan Carlos would ‘return home with bags full of cash’.
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