Former King of Spain seeks immunity for claiming to have used a spy agency to threaten his ex-lover | Spain
A former lover of the former King of Spain believes a book about the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was left at her home as part of a harassment campaign led by the monarch, the High Court has learned from London.
Former King Juan Carlos is seeking sovereign immunity in court over allegations he used the Spanish spy agency to harass Danish businesswoman Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein.
In a skeletal argument presented to the court, lawyers for Sayn-Wittgenstein said she was seeking damages for “the great mental pain, the alarm, the anxiety, the distress, the loss of well-being, the ‘humiliation and moral stigmatization she suffered “.
After her five-year affair with the king, her “associate” General Sanz RoldÃ¡n, then head of Spain’s national intelligence agency, and her colleagues began “to threaten her and her children,” the document claims.
The threats began when RoldÃ¡n met Sayn-Wittgenstein at the Connaught Rooms in London in 2012, two years before Juan Carlos abdicated the throne of Spain and his son Felipe became king.
During the London meeting, Sayn-Wittgenstein’s apartments in Monaco and a villa in Switzerland were broken into, she claims. She later discovered that a book about Diana’s death had been left on a coffee table in the Swiss villa, the document says. The papers in the apartment were said to have been “disturbed”.
His lawyers argued that the harassment continued after the abdication, including a surveillance operation against his home in Shropshire. It involved drilling a hole in his bedroom window in June 2017, and CCTV cameras were shot at the property in April 2020, the document said. Both incidents were reported to the police.
Sayn-Wittgenstein claims that at the time, Juan Carlos demanded the return of gifts he gave her when they were lovers, including art, jewelry and Â£ 65million in cash, according to the skeletal argument.
His lawyers argued that sovereign immunity did not apply because much of the harassment had occurred after the abdication and was in any event “of an essentially private nature”.
Defending the former king, Daniel Bethlehem QC said in written arguments in court that the former king “rejects the allegations made against him, and any alleged wrongdoing by the Spanish state is denied in the strongest terms” .
He argued that sovereign immunity should apply because the only way Juan Carlos could persuade officials of the Spanish intelligence agency to act on his behalf was that he was or had been a king. Juan Carlos’ actions were “essentially public acts because of the identity of the person,” Bethlehem told the court.
The former King’s defense, submitted to the court, said: âMany of the acts giving rise to the claim against His Majesty can be considered to have been committed in his public capacity. The applicant refers to Her Majesty using the head of the Spanish National Intelligence Agency, “agents and / or agents or sub-contractors” of the intelligence agency and other “agents” to carry out physical surveillance and digital and an “intrusion” on his property. Such alleged behavior, even abusive or unlawful, would have been within the official capacity of Her Majesty.
Bethlehem also argued that immunity should continue to apply after his abdication, as Juan Carlos is still part of the royal household and a figurehead in the Spanish constitution.
He told the court: âHer Majesty is an essential part of the constitutional fabric of Spain. This remains the case after his abdication. Her majesty is not only the personal embodiment of the return to democracy in Spain, but also an unbroken link with the past.
James Lewis, QC, on behalf of the Applicant, said: “A former Head of State has no immunity.”
The hearing before Judge Nicklin continues.