Spain’s former king wins permission to appeal in harassment case

Spain's former king Juan Carlos I on Monday won permission to appeal against a London court ruling that allowed his former lover to bring a harassment case against him.

Spain's emeritus king, who is in self-imposed exiled in the UAE, strenuously denies the harassment allegations.(Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, 58, is seeking civil personal injury damages from the 84-year-old monarch, who lives in the United Arab Emirates.

In March, a High Court judge rejected Juan Carlos’ claim that he had state immunity and that English courts had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Judge Matthew Nicklin ruled that he was no longer a member of the royal household of his son, the current Spanish King Felipe VI, that would give him legal protection.

But two judges at the Court of Appeal have now allowed him to challenge the ruling about whether he had immunity before his abdication in 2014.

Court documents claim that the pair were in an “intimate romantic relationship” between 2004 and 2009, and that he showered her with gifts, even after they broke up.

The case was adjourned without a date for a full hearing being set.

Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Say alleges that Juan Carlos harassed her after she declined to rekindle the relationship, using threats, break-ins at her properties and surveillance.

Lawyers for the Danish businesswoman accuse him of trying to frustrate her claim.

Juan Carlos, who appeared in court documents under his full name Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María De Borbón y Borboón, strenuously denies the allegations.

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Spain opens probe into King Juan Carlos’s hunting expenses

Spain's tax office has opened an investigation into the former king's expenses during hunting expeditions, a newspaper reported Wednesday, just months after prosecutors shelved three other probes into his financial affairs.

Spain opens probe into King Juan Carlos's hunting expenses

According to El Mundo daily, the tax office has asked Juan Carlos I “to account for the origin of funds used to pay for the flights and other expenses incurred” on various hunting trips between 2014 and 2018.

The suspicion is that the hunting trips, which took place after his abdication in 2014 when he no longer benefitted from immunity as king, were paid for as a gift.

Taxpayers in Spain must declare any gifts received to the authorities within a certain timeframe.

Contacted by AFP, the tax office refused to comment.

The former king flew back to Spain last month for his first visit in nearly two years, since fleeing to Abu Dhabi to live in self-imposed exile following a string of financial scandals.

Although prosecutors closed their probes into his affairs in March, revelations about the murky origins of his fortune have done irreparable damage to a figure once revered for his role in Spain’s democratic transition after decades of dictatorship.

According to the newspaper, the sums involved do not exceed €120,000  ($129,000) per year, which is the threshold for an offence against the treasury.

Such an offence carries a penalty of between one and five years in prison.

Earlier this year, prosecutors admitted identifying “sums defrauded from the Treasury” between 2008 and 2012 but said they were dropping the case for reasons including “the inviolability of the head of state and tax regularisation” payments he made in recent years.

No more regattas… for now

Since leaving Spain in August 2020, Juan Carlos has twice settled tax debts on undeclared income for over five million euros ($5.37 million) in what was widely seen as a bid to avoid being charged with a crime.

During his brief trip home last month, which stirred much controversy, the 84-year-old attended a regatta in Sanxenxo in the north-western Galicia region then spent half a day at Madrid’s Zarzuela Palace with his son, King Felipe VI, and other family members.

He had been due to return this weekend for another regatta featuring his six-metre (20-foot) racing yacht “Bribon” (Spanish for ‘rascal’), but recently pulled out, a spokesman for the Sanxenxo sailing club told AFP.

El País newspaper said his decision was likely taken in light of the palace’s determination to avoid another controversial media spectacle such as that generated by his first trip.

It is not the first time that Juan Carlos’ passion for hunting has got him into trouble: 10 years ago, when Spain was mired in recession during the global financial crisis, it emerged that he had taken a luxury elephant hunting trip in Botswana with his former lover.

Details came out after he broke his hip and had to be flown home for surgery, prompting him to publicly apologise.

That incident shattered years of silence over his opulent lifestyle, ruining his image and triggering a string of investigations into his opaque fortune.