An investigation into an allegation that Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world's richest men and News Corp's second biggest shareholder, raped a woman has been re-opened.
The prince was accused of drugging and raping a young model on a yacht in Ibiza in 2008 but the inquiry was closed last year on the orders of a magistrate who decided there was too little evidence.
A court has now overruled the magistrate and ordered that the case be re-opened. In the court order it was stated that Prince Alwaleed had not been questioned during the initial inquiries. It also said that forensic tests from samples taken from the alleged victim had confirmed the presence of both semen and the sedative nordazepam.
Prince Alwaleed holds a 7 per cent share in News Corp, which owns News International, and the rape investigation adds a fresh twist to the hacking saga that has bedevilled the media group this year.
He is thought to have played a crucial role in events that led to Rebekah Brooks resigning as chief executive of News International. On the night before she resigned, the prince said publicly: "For sure she has to go, you bet she has to go." Until then, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corp, appeared determined to keep her in the job.
Javier Beloqui, the lawyer representing the model, who was 20 at the time of the alleged rape, urged the prince to travel to Spain to testify or to take a DNA test for comparison against the samples taken from the woman. "If he is innocent, it is all over and if not, he will be charged with rape. It is as simple as that," said Mr Beloqui.
A statement issued by the prince's Kingdom Holding Company, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, noted that "salacious allegations involving an alleged encounter between HRH Prince Alwaleed and a woman in Ibiza" had been made.
"These allegations are completely and utterly false," the company said. "The alleged encounter simply never happened. Indeed, the events could not have happened. Not only was Prince Alwaleed not in Ibiza at any time in 2008 but has not been in Ibiza for over a decade.
"Further, HRH Prince Alwaleed's yacht, Kingdom 5KR, was not in Ibiza in 2008 nor has Prince Alwaleed ever charted a yacht in Ibiza. He was nowhere near Ibiza when the alleged events took place. As relevant travel records and itinerary confirm, he was in the presence of dozens of people at that time, including his family, and not in Spain.
It added that the prince had first heard of the allegation this week and that neither he nor his lawyers were informed of the complaint either in 2008 when it first surfaced nor in 2010 when the investigation was halted.
As well as owning a large share of News Corp, the prince is the largest individual stakeholder in Citigroup and, according to Forbes, he is the world's 26th wealthiest man with a fortune of $19.4 billion (£12.3bn).