The father-in-law of Pippa Middleton is being investigated by French police over allegations he raped a female minor.
David Matthews, the father of James Matthews who married the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister last summer, was questioned by police on Tuesday over an alleged attack and placed under formal investigation by a magistrate.
The alleged rape is said to have happened in 1998-9, and was reported to police in 2017. Mr Matthews denies the “untrue and scandalous accusation”.
Under French law, being put under formal investigation means there is “serious or consistent evidence” that points to probable involvement in a crime. It is a step toward a trial but investigations can be dropped without proceeding to court.
After questioning, Mr Matthews was freed but remains under judicial control, meaning prosecutors have attached conditions to his release or imposed certain limits on who he can meet or where he can go. A judicial source confirmed to the Telegraph there were no restrictions to “his freedom of movement”, meaning he does not have to remain in France.
The allegations are being investigated by the Minor Protection Brigade. Kensington Palace, which represents the Duchess of Cambridge, did not comment.
The 74-year-old, a millionaire former racing driver who owns the Eden Roc hotel in St Barths, was present at the wedding of James Matthews and Pippa Middleton in May 2017, in a day which included senior members of the Royal Family.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who is very close to her younger sister, watched on as their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte joined the wedding party as page boy and flowergirl.
Prince Harry also attended, along with Mr Matthew’s son, reality television star Spencer, and Carole, Michael and James Middleton.
Mr Matthews is reported to have been brought in for questioning after flying into Paris.
A Paris judicial official told the Telegraph: “I confirm that David M was placed in police custody on 27 March at the Brigade for the Protection of Minors.
“Following his arrest, the Paris public prosecutor’s office opened a judicial investigation, overlooked by an examining magistrate.
“He was placed under judicial supervision by the investigating judge.
“The investigation alleges that the crimes were committed in 1998 and 1999.
“The investigations will now continue as a judicial investigation and will be led by an investigating judge.”
A spokesman for Mr Matthews said: “David Matthews categorically denies the allegation and unequivocally contests the untrue and scandalous accusation.”
Mr Matthews, the son of a Yorkshire coal miner, is a self-made millionaire who rose from his first job as a garage mechanic to a renowned and successful racing driver.
Retiring in the late 1970s following injury, he made a fortune through the sale of his car dealership, marrying his second wife, Jane, and buying 18th century mansion Caunton Manor for their family.
The couple went on to buy Eden Roc hotel in the Caribbean island of St Barths, a French overseas territory. The property went on to become a favourite celebrity haunt, and has hosted the Middleton family.
Mr Matthews is also Laird of Glen Affric, after purchasing the Scottish estate. He is father of James, Spencer and Michael, who died aged 22 while climbing Mount Everest.
He also has a daughter with his first wife.
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