Boris Becker claims diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy
Tennis champion cites his role as Central African Republic’s cultural attache in high court
Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker is using his role as an ambassador for the Central African Republic to claim diplomatic immunity from ongoing bankruptcy proceedings in the UK.
Lawyers for the former tennis star lodged a claim in the high court in London on Thursday asserting immunity against attempts to enforce bankruptcy proceedings against Becker, which his creditors have applied to extend, citing his role as the Central African Republic’s attache to the European Union on sporting, cultural and humanitarian affairs, which he started in April this year.
The position is covered by the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which means Becker cannot be made subject to any legal process without the consent of the Central African Republic and the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, according to his lawyers.
Becker was declared bankrupt in June 2017 over an undisclosed amount of money owed to private bankers Arbuthnot Latham & Co, which a court ruled he was not able to pay.
After his lawyers submitted the application, Becker said: “The decision to commence bankruptcy proceedings against me was both unjustified and unjust. A bunch of anonymous and unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats pushed me into a completely unnecessary declaration of bankruptcy, which has inflicted a whole heap of damage on me, both commercially and professionally, and on those close to me.
“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. Once this gravy train for the suits has been stopped in its tracks, my lawyers will turn to the question of compensation. I will be coming after the people who forced this process through to hold them publicly accountable for their actions.”
Arbuthnot Latham & Co declined to immediately comment on Becker’s statement.
Becker will reportedly have his own office in the Brussels embassy of the Central African Republic as part of the role as sports attache.
He has employed Ben Emmerson QC, who has previously represented Julian Assange and Marina Litvinenko, to fight his bankruptcy case.
He continued: “I should add that I am immensely proud of my appointment as the sports and culture attache for the Central African Republic. Sport is incredibly important in Africa and is fast becoming a universal language, a form of social diplomacy and a leveller between people from vastly different and unequal social backgrounds around the world.
“My diplomatic role in the Central African Republic allows me to give something meaningful back to sports supporters in one of the poorest parts of the world. There is no reason why a role of this kind should be treated any differently to an appointment as a military or a trade attache, which everyone recognises as attracting diplomatic immunity.”