Lawyers acting for former tennis champion Boris Becker have lodged a claim before a UK court, asserting diplomatic immunity to protect him from being sued for alleged debts.
They say his appointment as a sporting ambassador for the Central African Republic (CAR) means he should not be subject to legal process in any country.
The 50-year-old German – a former world number one who won six Grand Slam including three Wimbledon titles – was declared bankrupt last year over money owed to the bank Arbuthnot Latham.
In April this year Becker was named by the Central African Republic as a sport and culture attaché to the European Union. Becker said he wanted to help make the Central African Republic “safe and worth living for its people”.
The position is covered by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The claim now before the High Court argues that Becker has legal immunity unless there is intervention to remove it from the British and CAR governments.
Becker has appointed lawyer Ben Emmerson QC, who has also represented Julian Assange and Marina Litvinenko.
The ex-tennis star complains that the bankruptcy proceedings are “unjustified and unjust”, brought by “unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats” who have “inflicted a whole heap of damage” on Becker and those close to him.
“I have now asserted diplomatic immunity as I am in fact bound to do, in order to bring this farce to an end, so that I can start to rebuild my life,” he said.
Earlier this week it was revealed that trophies and other mementos from Becker’s tennis career were being put up for auction to help pay for his debts.
The teenage prodigy became Wimbledon’s youngest men’s singles champion when he won the title at 17 years old in 1985. His post-playing career has included spells as a TV pundit and as coach for Novak Djokovic.
However, his life away from the court has been plagued by personal and legal difficulties, with cases brought against him in Spain and Switzerland as well as his native Germany, where he was convicted of tax evasion in 2002.