The Hohenzollern Case File
(The Qualified Privilege Trial day three, October 24, 2007. Extract from the cross-examination of Ambassador Richard W. Carlson)
The Star Witness
The next witness was Ambassador Richard Carlson. Mr. Cogley (Counsel for Marco Houston/Royalty Magazine) also asked him to confirm his witness statement and left the cross-examination to Mr. Moloney (Counsel for Prince Radu of Romania/Hohenzollern-Veringen). Given the run of events so far the defence pinned a good deal of its hopes on this testimony.
Ambassador Carlson boasted an impressive CV as the court heard: a distinguished career in journalism, including managing the Voice of America (the USA’s official external broadcaster) under the Reagan and first Bush administrations, leading up to being appointed Ambassador to the Seychelles. At the time of the press conference he was Vice-Chairman of the ‘Foundation for the Defense of Democracies,’ a Washington D.C. think tank specialising in foreign policy.
Ambassador Carlson’s first contact with regard to Prince Radu was from a friend, Charles Manatt, formerly chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1981 to 1985 and, at the time of the press conference, the principal of a law firm in Washington D.C.
Mr Moloney: The first thing referred to, in this point of time it [the press conference] begins with some person, as yet unnamed, coming to Mr. Manatt’s law firm and presenting a complaint that Prince Radu had been offering to sell them titles, yes?
Amb. Carlson: Yes.
Mr. Moloney: As far as you are aware that is the beginning of it, yes?
Amb. Carlson: From my point of view, yes. It was two people, as I understood it from Mr Manatt, yes. People I actually knew oddly enough.
Ambassador Carlson did not want to disclose these vital names as it would be a breach of confidence. Mr. Moloney pressed him and Justice Eady intervened: “You are not bound to, I am not directing that you do, but obviously the amount of weight I attach to the allegations may depend on the source of them.”
Amb. Carlson: I don’t have first hand knowledge of this because I didn’t discuss it with either woman but the two women are . . . they are both prominent Democrats actually. One is Mrs. Esther Cooper-Smith, she lives in Washington, and the other is Mrs. Sheila Lawrence . . . She is the wife of Ambassador Larry Lawrence who was the Ambassador to Switzerland . . . Both women, as I understood the story, I didn’t discuss it with them, but they were approached separately, I assume, by Radu Duda, allegedly, about buying a title. And I think one of them, Mrs. Cooper-Smith, I remember this being said, who I know quite well, has Romanian, some part of her background is Romanian, I think.”
The Well Known Lia
The cross-examination had taken an unexpected and dramatic turn and I hoped Mr. Moloney was in trouble as two of Prince Radu’s accusers had finally been publicly named. As the discussion moved on Ambassador Carlson’s testimony was also useful regarding Prince Paul’s alleged involvement. Prior to the press conference he “had never met him. I never heard of him.” More involved, however, was the response to whether or not he knew Princess Lia.
Mr. Moloney: So, Mr. Lambrino’s wife is a friend of Ambassador Manatt? Amb. Carlson: I don’t know if they are friends, they may be friends but Lia, once Lia Belli, lived in San Francisco. I lived in San Francisco, well, in fact I didn’t know her, but I knew Melvin Belli from San Francisco in the 1960s and Chuck Manatt, who I said was head of the Democratic Party in the United States, was head of the California Democratic Party previous to that, and is quite well known politically, and I think Mrs. Belli, now Princess Lia, was well known as well.
Mr. Moloney: Thank you. And Mrs. Belli is of a Romanian background?
Amb. Carlson: I actually don’t know that.
Mr. Moloney: I understand that she is. I think she may not be born in Romania, but I think she may be of Romanian or Romanian-Jewish, if it is necessary to make that distinction, ancestry is the impression that I get . . .