A Romanian Prince who sued a magazine which reported that he had been branded an impostor today accepted “substantial” damages and a public apology in a move which ended a six-year libel battle over the “extremely grave” allegations.
James Price QC, for Prince Radu of Hohenzollern, told Mr Justice Eady at the High Court that the article, headlined “Scandal in Romania as Princess Margarita’s husband is branded an impostor”, appeared in Royalty Monthly magazine in September 2004.
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“In the article, the defendants alleged that there was a very strong case against the claimant that he was dishonestly claiming to have been granted the title ‘Prinz von Hohenzollern-Veringen’ by Friedrich Wilhelm Furst von Hohenzollern, the head of the Hohenzollern family, and that he was relying on a forged document to support his claims,” Mr Price said
“They also alleged that, as a result of his actions, the claimant was deceiving people into according him access to social circles and to particular official roles, including to Nato committees, to which he would otherwise not be admitted, and that he was using the title for monetary gain.
“In addition, the defendants alleged that there was a strong case that the claimant had created a security risk because what he had done had exposed him to blackmail.”
Price went on: “The defendants also alleged that on learning that the Hohenzollerns had no power under German law to grant such a title, the claimant then changed his stance to claim that he had in fact been adopted by the Hohenzollerns.
“Within the same article, the defendants also alleged that the claimant was guilty of having been an officer in the Securitate secret police under the regime of communist dictator Ceausescu.”
The defendants – Royalty Monthly editor Marco Houston and its publisher, Sena-Julia Publicatus Ltd – now accepted that the allegations were “wholly untrue” and should never have been published.
Price said that since Prince Radu’s marriage in 1996 to Crown Princess Margarita of Romania, the daughter and heir to King Michael of Romania, he “has worked consistently to further the interests of the Romanian people”.
The “extremely serious allegations” had caused him “considerable distress and embarrassment”.
His distress was further exacerbated by the fact that the allegations were “defended over a period of some six years”.
As well as the damages – which were not disclosed in court – the defendants had agreed to pay his legal costs.
Guy Davis, solicitor for the defendants, told Mr Justice Eady: “The defendants withdraw the allegations in question and offer their sincere apologies to the claimant for the damage these allegations have caused.”
Today’s settlement marks the end of a bitter six-year battle which has involved a series of court hearings and two visits to the Court of Appeal.