A Saudi prince has been ordered to pay £25,000 ($39,000) to charity for failing to attend the High Court in London to give verbal evidence in a case relating to the late King Fahd’s “secret wife”.
Prince Abdul Aziz, the son of the late king, claims he was forbidden by the Saudi Royal Court from attending the London case to avoid a “media circus”, according to local reports.
He is being sued for £12m ($20m) by Janan Harb, 67, who says she secretly married King Fahd when he was still a prince in 1968 and she was 19 years old.
He repeatedly promised "to look after me and maintain me for the rest of my life” and in 2003 his son to another wife, Prince Abdul Aziz, agreed to honour the promise by giving her £12m and two high-value apartments in central London, she told the London court.
Harb, who was born to a Christian Palestinian family and now has British citizenship, said she brought legal action because she had not received the money or the properties.
Lawyers for Prince Abdul Aziz argued he had “state immunity” and the court had no jurisdiction to try Harb’s claim.
But Justice Vivien Rose ruled the king's immunity ceased when he died in 2005 as he was no longer the head of state.
The decision makes way for a potentially embarrassing case, with Harb threatening to “spill the beans” on the Saudi royal family.
The prince has made written statements to the court denying her claim, but the judge ordered him to attend court and give oral evidence, which Harb also has done.
When he failed to show by the deadline, the prince’s lawyer, Ian Mill, told the court his client had been prohibited by the Saudi Royal Court.
In a statement provided to the court and quoted by local media, the prince said: "It is to my deep personal regret that I could not comply with the (High Court) order because I was forbidden from so attending by the (Saudi) Royal Court.
"The order from the Royal Court placed me in an impossible position because I was confronted with conflicting obligations.
"By my non-attendance, I understand that I acted in breach of the terms of the (High Court) order.
"I humbly and sincerely apologise to the English Court for that. It was not out of any disrespect to the English Court that I failed to comply with the order but because of the impossible position I was placed in as a consequence of the Royal Court's order."
However, the judge said the prince "did not provide a reason for his non-attendance that was acceptable to me" and ordered he donate £25,000 to a legal charity, or charities, that assist defendants that cannot afford their legal fees.
The court is yet to rule on Harb’s claim.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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