Juan Carlos: Ex-lover of Spanish king claims he told spies to track her in UK

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Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein is seeking damages - TANCREDI
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein is seeking damages - TANCREDI

The former lover of King Juan Carlos of Spain is suing him for damages over claims he harassed her and put her under illegal surveillance in the UK.

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, who has a country estate in Shropshire, is accusing the former monarch of threatening and defaming her, according to documents filed at the High Court in London.

Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein, 56, claims the Spanish intelligence service have also been conducting "unlawful covert and overt surveillance" on her since 2012. She is seeking substantial damages and a restraining order.

The Danish businesswoman alleges that the surveillance included tracking her vehicle, trespassing on her property and hacking her phone and computer.

In court documents, she claims to have discovered a "perfectly drilled hole" in the bedroom window of her private estate, Chyknell Hall, in Shropshire, where she lives with her son.

Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein also alleges that a man was following her as she shopped near Harrods, and menacingly said to her "Hola Corinna".

Her claims also include that Juan Carlos wrongly accused her of stealing a silver elephant and candelabra set from one of the Royal residences in Spain.

She also alleges he is behind false rumours that she has attempted to blackmail the Spanish Royal family.

Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein with King Juan Carlos in 2006 - CORBIS
Corinna zu Sayn-Wittgenstein with King Juan Carlos in 2006 - CORBIS

Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein's claim was filed at the High Court in December 2020. Juan Carlos, who abdicated in 2014, has not yet filed a defence but denies wrongdoing.

Whether or not her claim falls under the UK's legal jurisdiction is likely to be an issue in the case, given that Juan Carlos does not live in the UK and is Spain's former head of state.

At the heart of Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein's case is a €65m payment made by Juan Carlos to her in 2012.

In her claim, Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein claims that Juan Carlos told her he "wanted to ensure that she and her children would be provided for" but was "concerned that his family would challenge anything he left to her in his will, after his death”.

However, she alleges that Juan Carlos later asked for the money back or be "made available for his use".

She claims that, after she declined, he falsely accused her of stealing the funds and defamed her to her family and business partners, as well as to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

This resulted in a loss of income from her job as a “strategic consultant working with high-net worth individuals and with leading companies around the world", her claim states.

She claims that Juan Carlos threatened her, saying the consequences "will not be good" if she failed to do what he wanted.

Her claim is said to be for tens of millions of euros. She is also seeking an injunction which would prevent Juan Carlos and his agents from communicating with her, tracking her, making defamatory statements about her, harassing her, or going within 150 metres of her residences.

King Felipe, Juan Carlos's son and successor, has renounced all inheritance from his father and stripped the former king of his royal allowance - GETTY IMAGES
King Felipe, Juan Carlos's son and successor, has renounced all inheritance from his father and stripped the former king of his royal allowance - GETTY IMAGES

Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein's statement of claim says she has "suffered great distress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and concern about her own physical safety and that of her children".

It also says Juan Carlos has "sought to destroy her reputation and livelihood by spreading defamatory remarks and by vilification in the media".

She claims that she ended her relationship with the former king in 2009 and he may have felt "angry, rejected and/or humiliated" that she would not take him back.

Juan Carlos, who married Queen Sofia in 1962, was in a relationship with Ms Sayn-Wittgenstein between 2004 and 2009.

Once hailed a national hero for driving Spain's transition to democracy following Franco's death in 1975 and foiling a coup attempt in 1981, Juan Carlos has since been at the centre of a number of scandals and stepped down under a cloud of corruption allegations in 2014.

King Felipe, his son and successor, last year renounced all financial inheritance from his father and stripped Juan Carlos of his royal allowance after a Telegraph investigation revealed that he and his father were both named as the beneficiaries of a Panama-based fund started in 2008 with a $100m “donation” allegedly connected to a high-speed train deal in Saudi Arabia

The Spanish Royal Family faced calls for transparency after the Telegraph also revealed the former king was flown around the world on private jets using a fund that is being investigated by Swiss authorities, and that a cousin and close confidante of the king was allegedly paid millions of pounds in commission for the disastrous sale of a Spanish bank to Barclays.

Juan Carlos has always denied wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offence.

He was criticised in 2012 for enjoying an expensive hunting trip to Botswana, Africa, while his country grappled with austerity, recession and soaring unemployment. A photograph of him posing with a dead elephant during another trip also sparked outrage.

The former monarch has also been accused of receiving kickbacks from foreign leaders. He has not been charged with any offence.

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