Germany's 'Punching Prince' starts fight with his own lawyer

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The scandal-filled saga of Germany's "Punching" Prince Ernst August of Hanover took a new turn yesterday with disclosures that the 57-year-old descendant of Queen Victoria is to sue his own lawyer for claiming that he was intoxicated during a violent brawl in East Africa in 2000.

His antics have filled pages of German celebrity magazines for over a decade. They include stories about his rocky marriage to Princess Caroline of Monaco and about him urinating against the Turkish pavilion at the Hanover Expo in 2000.

But Prince Ernst August's chief claim to notoriety and the source of his reputation as the "Punching Prince" stems from a late-night confrontation with a disco owner on the Kenyan holiday island of Lamu in 2000. The disco owner, Josef Brunlehner, is alleged to have continuously deprived the Prince, his family and other islanders of sleep by playing loud music and flashing laser beams at his club.

One evening, the Prince confronted Mr Brunlehner and is alleged to have twice boxed his ears, saying one punch was "for the music, the other for the light". Mr Brunlehner's version of the event is different. He said Prince Ernst August was accompanied by more than 10 islanders as he attacked the disco owner, punched him to the ground and hit him with a "sort of knuckleduster" as he lay prostrate on the beach.

The Prince, who has been accused of alcohol problems in the past, was fined €200,000 (£176,000), for his behaviour by a Hildesheim court last year.

But the "Punching Prince" has let it be known he is unhappy with how the case has been handled. He was reported yesterday to have launched a bid to restore his honour by suing his lawyer, Jochen Heidemeier.

At an earlier hearing, Mr Heidemeier is alleged to have issued a statement to the court about the Lamu incident, saying that the Prince had confessed to having "drunk considerably" before his fight with the disco owner and could "not rule out" having caused the man harm during their dispute.

Prince Ernst August has since said that he never made such a confession and that he was "shocked" to read about it in a Hanover newspaper. He has started an action to sue Mr Heidemeier on charges of perverting the course of justice. He is claiming €5,000 in damages.

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