Spain’s former king, Juan Carlos I, on Tuesday resumed a UK court battle to win immunity over harassment claims by his former lover, just as a new podcast featuring her claims is released. Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 58, is seeking personal injury damages from the 84-year-old former monarch, who ruled Spain from 1975 until his abdication in 2014. The British resident 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 filed a harassment suit in London in 2020, alleging he pressured her to return gifts worth 65 million euros ($65 million), including works of art and jewellery. Juan Carlos, listed in court under his full name Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor Maria De Borbon y Borbon, has not appeared at any hearings so far and strenuously denies any wrongdoing. In March, the High Court in London rejected his claim that a 1978 UK law meant English courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case because he has state immunity as a royal.
Judge Matthew Nicklin said that “whatever special status the defendant retained under the law and constitution of Spain, he was no longer a ‘sovereign’ or ‘head of state’ so as to entitle him to personal immunity”. The former king’s lawyers appealed and won permission for a legal challenge concerning the period when Juan Carlos was on the throne. Three judges at the Court of Appeal began hearing legal arguments on Tuesday. A ruling is expected in a few weeks, after which the harassment lawsuit could continue. Setting out his position, Juan Carlos’s lawyer, Tim Otty, argued that immunity is “a procedural bar” and says “nothing about the lawfulness or the morality of the conduct alleged”.However, zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn’s lawyer, James Lewis, argued the appeal should be dismissed, claiming the alleged harassment had involved “intelligence and surveillance” personnel acting as the former king’s “agents”.
The hearing comes as zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, who was also not present in court on Tuesday, has been discussing the relationship in a new podcast series called “Corinna and the King”. Its release has stirred fresh controversy in Spain. Its creators — two London-based journalists — defend its timing and independence from zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn. “Imagine that someone who says they love your children — and that you’re the love of their life — would frame you in a criminal investigation,” she alleges in the first episode, which was made available on Monday.__Daily Times