A London court has reportedly ruled a Saudi prince does not have state immunity in a £12 million ($20 million) case brought by a British woman who claims she was secretly married to the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.
Janan Harb, 65, reportedly told the High Court in London she wed King Fahd when he was a prince and an interior minister in 1968 and was forced to leave the country several years later, before he ascended to the throne in 1982.
She claims King Fahd had promised to look after her financially for the rest of her life and that in 2003 his son Prince Abdul Aziz agreed to honour the promise by giving her £12 million and two high-value apartments in central London.
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.
“After 12 years of resistance I am very happy and relieved,” she told reporters on Monday.
“If the prince is going to appeal, I am going to accept the offer of the movie of the book I have written. I am going to spill the beans.”
Justice Rose said the prince, who did not attend court, had made no response “as regards the accuracy or otherwise” of Harb’s allegations and his submissions had been “limited to contesting the jurisdiction of the court”, The Telegraph reported.
A letter from the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in London said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supported the prince’s claim for state immunity, the court heard.
A spokesman for law firm Neumans, which represented Harb, was quoted as saying: “Mrs Harb is passionate about sharing her personal account of what it is truly like to be married to a Saudi king and believes the exposure will be of public interest.
“Her story has received international interest from film producers and she is currently in detailed discussions to progress the adaptation of her book into a film. There are also negotiations under way with regard to the publishing of her book in advance of this.”
Harb claims she married King Fahd when she was 19 and was part of his harem. She has also claimed she was not allowed outside the palace walls and prohibited from having children, The Telegraph reported.