Juan Carlos had immunity from claims while king of Spain: UK judges

Spain’s 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 judges overturned a lower court ruling that the 84-year-old former monarch could face a civil claim from Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 57, assessing that he was “immune from the jurisdiction” of UK courts before his abdication in 2014.

But Juan Carlos still faces a court battle over claims made about his conduct after he stepped down from the throne.

Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, who lives in England, wants an “injunction and damages” due to “a continuous and ongoing campaign of harassment” against her.

She claims the campaign began in 2012, following the “break-up of an intimate romantic relationship”, and continues to this day.

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 hearings so far and strenuously denies any wrongdoing.

In March, the High Court in London fully rejected Juan Carlos’s claim that 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”.

He appealed the decision, and won a partial victory on Tuesday after the three judges agreed he was immune to claims made before 2014.

Court submissions claim Juan Carlos, who is married, was in an “intimate romantic relationship” with the divorcee from 2004 to 2009 and showered her with gifts.

She alleged that Juan Carlos began harassing her after their relationship broke down, using threats, break-ins at her properties and surveillance.

Gunshots were fired at and damaged security cameras at the front gate of the property, she alleged, accusing the former king of being angry at her refusals. — Agence France-Presse

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