Boris Becker’s claims to be a diplomat for the Central African Republic has taken a serious hit – with the country’s foreign minister saying he never actually signed it off.
Lawyers acting on behalf of the tennis champion told a bankruptcy hearing in London last week that his role as a sport and culture attaché to the EU for the republic gave him diplomatic immunity from the proceedings.
The three-time Wimbledon champion claimed his appointment to the position, in April, meant he was protected by a 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
His lawyers argued that this meant the German can not be subjected to any legal proceedings without the consent of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and his counterpart in Bangui.
The African country’s foreign minister, Charles Armel Doubane, was quoted in Die Welt on Monday as saying that Becker was not an “official diplomat of Central African Republic”.
According to the German newspaper, Doubane said that as foreign minister he would have been required to sign a document giving Becker that status, but he was never asked to do so.
He added that his country would not obstruct justice.
The tale then took another twist with the republic’s joint embassy to the EU, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg saying that Becker is “a supporter of our country and was appointed to the diplomatic service by the president of our country”.
The joint embassy said Becker had an office in Brussels and that he was “in mission for our country and our embassy in the field of sport, culture and humanitarian affairs”.
Becker was declared bankrupt in 2017 after a court was told he owed a substantial but undisclosed amount to Arbuthnot Latham & Co, a private bank.
Lawyers for the 50-year-old were in the High Court on Monday to oppose an application to prolong his period of bankruptcy as creditors attempt to retrieve an undisclosed amount of debt, the Times reported.
The newspaper said the ruling was adjourned until a date no sooner than 5 October to give the court time to check Becker’s claim that he has diplomatic immunity from court proceedings in the UK.
Becker has said the bankruptcy proceedings are “unjustified and unjust”.
He said: “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.”