Spain’s minister of the interior, Rafael Catala, has warned that a 20-year-old law student whose apparently Walter Mitty-esque existence included passing himself off as a spy and wangling his way into royal coronation celebrations could face prosecution.
“[His] statements will be analysed to see if they constitute some kind of offence against the public interest, the public administration [and] the government,” Mr Catala warned in the case of the man who has been dubbed “Pequeño Nicolas [Little Nicolas]” in the Spanish press.
Francisco Nicolas Gomez Iglesias was briefly arrested in October and subsequently accused of impersonating public officials, including passing himself off as a secret service agent. In the ongoing investigation, he is suspected of falsifying state documents, several of which were apparently found in his flat.
Working for the Spanish secret service, the CNI, though, was just one of Little Nicholas’s alleged “jobs”, which ranged – at least, in his imagination – from an advisor to the royal family and the government to a rich aristocrat to brokering big business deals.
Spain’s top political and state institutions, including the CNI, have issued strong denials of all of Little Nicolas’s claims, which he partly re-affirmed in newspaper and television interviews. But the embarrassment at how a fresh-faced 20-year-old could inveigle his way into contact with such elite circles may well linger.
One of his first steps up the social and political ladder was to start, aged 15, regularly attending meetings at the FAES, a People’s Party-backed think tank chaired by former prime minister Jose María Aznar.
As a teenager, he then began building a series of useful connections, systematically taking dozens of photos of himself with personalities and politicians at meetings or when they crossed paths at the VIP box of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium. Boosted by a steadily increasing budget and studies at a top Madrid business school, in his late teens Little Nicolas added other trappings of power.
These ranged from a series of top-level Audis and BMWs to bodyguards, as well as moving from his parents’ modest home in Madrid to a well-appointed chalet in the swanky El Viso district outside the capital.
He had, he said, celebrated a birthday in a luxury chalet belonging to a leading Madrid politician and gatecrashed a celebration for multiple Tour de France winner Alberto Contador, apparently claiming he was a marquess.
One of the most widely published photos of Little Nicolas’s alleged double life shows him bowing to the newly crowned Felipe VI this summer, after hoodwinking another guest to take him along to the celebrations.
Following Little Nicolas’s arrest in October, the judge overseeing the investigation, Mercedes Perez, wrote in a report she “could not understand how a young man of 20, using only his own word, could have access to government conferences, places and events without his behaviour causing any alarm”.
The case continues.