Former Spanish king wins bid to block part of UK harassment case

FILE PHOTO: Former Spanish King Juan Carlos attends a sailing regatta at the Sailing Club in Sanxenxo

LONDON (Reuters) -Former Spanish king Juan Carlos on Tuesday won a bid to block part of a harassment case brought against him in a London court by his ex-lover.

The 84-year-old ex-monarch faces a lawsuit from Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Sayn, who says Juan Carlos directed a campaign of harassment against her from 2012 that is still ongoing. Juan Carlos emphatically denies Sayn-Wittgenstein’s claims.

Juan Carlos’ lawyers told the Court of Appeal in London last month that any alleged harassment before the former sovereign’s abdication in 2014 is covered by immunity.

But Sayn-Wittgenstein’s lawyers say the acts of harassment were private acts performed in the service of the former sovereign’s "hidden agenda".

On Tuesday, his appeal was allowed, with Judge Ingrid Simler saying in a written ruling: "The pre-abdication conduct alleged is immune from the jurisdiction of the courts of this country."

She said alleged acts carried out before Juan Carlos’ abdication by General Sanz Roldán, the then-head of Spain’s CNI intelligence agency, were “attributable to the Spanish state”.

"It was only (Juan Carlos’) position as head of state that enabled him to procure the head of the state security service to act in the manner alleged, using the CNI, whatever his private motives, and however abusive they might have been," Simler said.

Sayn-Wittgenstein’s lawyer Michael Kim from Kobre & Kim said in an emailed statement: “Corinna’s claim can now progress towards trial in the High Court in London.”

He added: “The overwhelming part of Corinna’s claim, from 2014, remains unaffected and should proceed to trial. It raises very serious allegations of harassment that have continued over a long period, which will be examined in detail when the trial takes place.”

Lawyers representing Juan Carlos did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Once revered for his role in Spain’s transition to democracy, Juan Carlos was forced to abdicate in 2014 following a series of scandals including his affair with Sayn-Wittgenstein and is now seen as a liability for his son, King Felipe.

Spanish prosecutors dropped two investigations into alleged fraud in the former king’s business dealings in March after failing to find sufficient evidence of criminal activity, following a similar move by Swiss prosecutors last December.

(Reporting by Sam Tobin, Editing by Kylie MacLellan and Bernadette Baum)