UK

Late Saudi King Fahd's 'secret wife' wins payout

Janan Harb outside the High Court on 3 November 2015 Image copyright PA
Image caption Janan Harb told the court she had secretly married the king in 1968

A woman who says she was the "secret wife" of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia has won a multimillion-pound claim at the High Court.

Janan Harb, 68, alleged one of the king's sons had agreed she would be looked after "for the rest of my life".

The court ruled she was entitled to more than £15m, plus the value of two homes in Chelsea, west London.

Ms Harb claimed to have secretly married the king in 1968 before he ascended to the throne.

The case could now go to the Court of Appeal.

'Contempt'

Judge Mr Justice Peter Smith said Ms Harb's claim that the king's son Prince Abdul Aziz, had met her at London's Dorchester Hotel when the king was seriously ill two years before his death in 2005 was "credible".

She claimed he had agreed to pay her £12m and transfer back to her two flats in Chelsea to keep his father's promise of lifelong financial support.

The prince made written statements to the court denying her claim.

Palestinian-born Ms Harb told the court that members of King Fahd's family were opposed to their relationship as she was from a Christian family. She said she converted to Islam shortly before their "discreet ceremony of marriage" took place.

During the hearing, the judge ordered Prince Abdul Aziz to give evidence in person but was told the Saudi royal family feared his appearance would result in "a media circus".

His failure to appear led to him being ordered to pay £25,000 to charity for contempt of court.

Ms Harb, who started her action more than 10 years ago, said in a statement: "Thank God we have British justice. The prince wanted me to go to Saudi Arabia where he would had power over all this.

"This is a very difficult case. I really thank the judge so much. He was so understanding."

Update: In June 2016, Prince Abdul Aziz won an appeal against the award, which was quashed. The Court of Appeal judges said Ms Harb's claims would have to be retried.

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