Prince Albert of Monaco and his wife have launched a legal battle for libel damages over a front page story that appeared in The Sunday Times.
The couple, who married last July, are demanding unlimited damages of more than £300,000 from publishers Times Newspapers over a story headlined 'The Full Filthy Monte", which was published the day after their wedding.
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The story claimed that Prince Albert was guilty of being complicit in serious criminality and deliberately turning a blind eye to wide-scale financial corruption throughout Monaco, according to the couple.
The couple say the story meant he turned a blind eye to severe police brutality and abuse of power, and overlooked the criminal actions of money launderers and mobsters, despite his promise in 2005 that he would root out corruption and clean up the city state.
According to their High Court claim, the story said Prince Albert deliberately cultivated links with individuals involved in organised crime, allowing himself to be blackmailed into providing them with unlawful financial or other benefits, in return for their promise not to expose secrets about his private life.
Prince Albert, the story claimed, had bribed his bride Charlene Grimaldi into a sham marriage, forcibly preventing her from leaving the country shortly before their wedding by telling police at Nice airport to take her passport as she tried to flee, after discovering the truth about him fathering an illegitimate child during their relationship.
The court will hear how the paper claimed his wife had agreed to take part in a sham marriage, not because she loved him but because he paid her so much money to go through the pretence of an extravagant wedding that she agreed, despite the illegitimate child
The prince and princess say the story, which continued on two inside pages, caused substantial damage to their reputations, as well as considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.
They are also demanding aggravated damages, saying The Sunday Times failed to check the claims with them first.
The story – which carried the subhead 'Behind a fairy tale wedding in Monaco lies rumours of murky money, abuse of power and a reluctant bride'– was published in the most sensational and inflammatory manner possible, and the allegations were then widely republished, they claim.
Now they are seeking damages, and an injunction banning the repetition of the allegations at the centre of their lawsuit.