Saudi Prince Wins Retrial on $27 Million to Late King’s Wife

  • London court rules in favor of Prince Abdul Aziz for retrial
  • Prince denies entering into any contract to pay Janan Harb

A U.K. court quashed an order against Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz to pay a wife of his late father the king about 19.2 million pounds ($27 million) in cash and property, saying the original judgment showed serious "shortcomings."

The retrial was granted in a London court Thursday, overturning a lower court’s decision in November that an alleged contract between Janan Harb, a wife of King Fahd, and the prince should be enforced. The Court of Appeal disagreed with Judge Peter Smith’s 2015 ruling, saying it "was unsatisfactory in a number of significant respects."

Janan Harb in London, June 16.

Photographer: Hannah McKay/Press Association via AP Images

Harb says she married King Fahd in 1968 when she was 19 and he was still a prince. She left Saudi Arabia for the U.S. in 1970 after relations between her and the Saudi royal family soured and before Fahd became king in 1982. She maintains that she remained married to the king in the eyes of sharia law.

She said she met with Prince Abdul Aziz, the son of another of the king’s wives, in 2003, and asked him for money, as the king had promised to look after her. Fahd had become partially incapacitated by that time and died in 2005. She testified that the prince agreed in a verbal deal he would pay 12 million pounds and give her two properties in London’s Chelsea neighborhood in exchange for the withdrawal of an affidavit she’d given in the months before that claimed the king had used drugs and discussed her termination of several pregnancies. The prince denies he entered into such a contract.

At the trial last year the properties were said to be worth about 3.6 million pounds combined, according to the prince’s lawyers, and interest on the missing payments was also being sought. Harb hasn’t put forward a specific claim amount. Damien McCrystal, a spokesman for Harb, said the ultimate figure would "have to be decided by the court in the event of an award being made."

“The Judgment of the Court of Appeal has re-affirmed the confidence of the prince in the fair and independent resolution of disputes before the English Courts," the lawyers for Prince Abdul Aziz said in an e-mailed statement. He is not in the line of succession.

McCrystal declined to comment on Thursday’s ruling.

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