Ambassador Becker aces his creditors
Boris Becker has declared himself a diplomat for a small African country in a bid to stop creditors chasing him for tens of millions of pounds in debts.
The three-time Wimbledon tennis champion was declared bankrupt last summer and earlier this year launched an appeal to find his missing trophies to try to pay off £54m (¤61.8m) of debts.
The German is due to be one of the BBC's commentators when Wimbledon starts in a fortnight's time. Now his lawyers have told the High Court Becker quietly became a "sporting, cultural and humanitarian affairs" attaché for the Central African Republic on April 27.
A defiant Becker said last night he was "immensely proud" of his new role - and attacked the "bunch of anonymous and unaccountable bankers and bureaucrats" chasing him for money.
According to the 1961 Vienna Convention, he cannot be subject to legal process in the courts of any country for so long as he remains a recognised diplomatic agent. He cannot be sued for the cash without the consent of the Central African Republic, while legal claims can only be served on him through diplomatic channels.
Any legal action would require the agreement of Boris Johnson, the UK foreign secretary, as well as the Central African Republic's foreign minister.
Becker's decision to become a diplomat could mean none of the money he is expected to receive for commentating for the BBC at Wimbledon will go to his creditors.
Becker said in a statement: "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."(© Daily Telegraph, London)