The rape charges hanging over Pippa Middleton's father-in-law

The rape charges hanging over Pippa Middleton’s father-in-law: As Princess of Wales’s sister ‘displays cryptic show of support for him’, how the multi-millionaire faces sex attack claims which he strongly denies

  • Pippa Middleton held bag with words ‘Eden Rock’ – the name of her father-in-law David Matthews’ exclusive Caribbean hotel – embellished on it at wedding
  • Mr Matthews is being investigated by French police – five years after rape charge

All eyes were on Pippa Middleton at a high-society wedding in Lake Como this weekend, yet it wasn’t her scarlet gown that caught the attention of guests.

Instead, it was Pippa’s clutch bag with the words ‘Eden Rock’ embellished on it – the name of her father-in-law David Matthews’ exclusive Caribbean hotel – that caused a stir. 

There have been suggestions that it was with this choice of accessory that Pippa gave a cryptic sign of support for Mr Matthews, 79, who is still being investigated by French police – five years after being charged with raping a 16-year-old girl.

In March, it emerged that French detectives at a Paris unit specialising in protecting minors have launched a new inquiry into allegations relating to Mr Matthews. 

This came five years after Mr Matthews, the father of Pippa’s husband James, 48, was arrested by French police in 2018 over allegations he raped a 16-year-old girl on two occasions between 1998 and 1999. 

Mr Matthews allegedly attacked the 16-year-old girl, who is British but cannot be named for legal reasons, for the first time in Paris and then again on the Caribbean island of St Barts where he owns the £5,000-a-night Eden Rock hotel.

It was during this original inquiry that further allegations are understood to have emerged. Prosecutors confirmed in March that Mr Matthews is under investigation by the same specialist unit – the Brigade for the Protection of Minors – without revealing any further details. 

Mr Matthews, a former racing driver, vehemently denies any wrongdoing. 

Pictured: James Matthews with his wife Pippa Middleton and his father David Matthews on their wedding day in May 2017 

All eyes were on Pippa Middleton at a high-society wedding in Lake Como this weekend, yet it wasn’t her scarlet gown that caught the attention of guests

Instead it was Pippa’s clutch bag with the words ‘Eden Rock’ embellished on it – the name of her father-in-law David Matthews’ exclusive Caribbean hotel – that caused a stir

David Mathews, second from right, with, from left, his wife Jane and sons Michael and James in St Barts in 1998 at the time of the alleged offences

In March, a spokesman for the Paris prosecutors told the Mail on Sunday: ‘The judicial investigation in which David Matthews has been indicted and placed under judicial control is in progress.’

‘I can also confirm a preliminary investigation entrusted to the Brigade for the Protection of Minors is also under way, implicating David Matthews,’ he said, adding he could not provide further details. 

Mr Matthews was interviewed by Judge Jean Rea twice in Paris in 2021 regarding the alleged rape of the 16-year-old girl. 

He had been first questioned in April 2018 by police after he was arrested as he flew into Paris Orly airport from St Barts where he lives with his wife Jane. 

He was held for 48 hours and questioned before appearing at the Palais de Justice, where he was charged with the ‘rape of a minor by a person with authority over his victim’, a crime that carries a maximum 15-year jail sentence in France. 

Mr Matthews has previously claimed to his friends that he is being ‘set up’ by the original complainant to ’cause his family embarrassment’. 

The alleged rape victim has angrily denied this and told French police in 2017 that she initially blamed herself for the reported attacks, which left her feeling ‘shocked and disgusted’.

Her father later described suggestions that she was trying to humiliate Mr Matthews just months after his financier son James married Prince William’s sister-in-law Pippa, as ‘ridiculous’.

In a 2018 interview with the Mail on Sunday, the woman’s father said: ‘The idea that she is doing this for compensation, or for any other reason than a desire for justice, is completely wrong.’

Pippa Middleton wore a scarlet gown and bold drop earrings at an exclusive wedding on Lake Como. But it was her choice of clutch bag that caused a stir

David Matthews (right with Pippa Middleton in St Barts in February this year), 79, was first arrested by French police in 2018 and remains under investigation over claims he raped a 16-year-old girl on two occasions between 1998 and 1999

Pippa Middleton and her husband James Matthews enjoy a beach day in St Barts in February 

Pippa Middleton enjoys a beach day in St Barts in February this year 

The alleged victim is said to have told French police Mr Matthews had groomed and assaulted her when she had just turned 15 but that the first alleged rape took place when she was 16 – a claim the former racing driver denies. 

The statute of limitations for prosecuting rape in France was two decades at the time of Mr Matthews’s arrest, meaning the charges could have been time-barred. A new law in 2018 extended this to 30 years for complainants under 18. 

The woman had first told her parents of the alleged rape in 2015, and her account left them ‘incredibly shocked’.

Her father said: ‘She told me, ‘You don’t know what I’ve been going through all these years.’ 

‘Then it all came pouring out. She said it had been a burden because she had kept it bottled up for so long. 

‘It’s caused her an immense emotional strain. She’s been unable to form any lasting relationships.’

Earlier, a source close to the Matthews family said his accuser was being ‘assisted’ in her complaint by her mother. 

‘I’ve heard the full story. It’s outrageous,’ said the source. ‘I feel very sorry for David. He’s completely being set up just to cause family embarrassment.’

David Matthews and his wife Jane attend the wedding of their son James and Pippa Middleton in May 2017 in Englefield Green 

David Matthews (left) with his wife Jane and son Spencer in London in September 2016

But the alleged victim’s father said in 2018: ‘My family are furious about what is coming out from the Matthews side since she came forward as she is being made out to be a fantasist and having made it all up.  

‘What could possibly be her motivation for revenge or embarrassing the Matthews?

‘We are all behind her and believe her. She had the courage to speak out – and she did, and by doing so she feels she can give herself some sense of closure.’

Mr Matthews attended his son’s 2017 wedding to Pippa with senior members of the Royal Family, including Prince William and Prince Harry.

The son of a Rotherham coal miner, Mr Matthews amassed a £40million fortune by selling a secondhand car business and moving into property development and hotel ownership.

After leaving school, Mr Matthews became an apprentice garage mechanic. At 19 he sold cars door-to-door and, in his spare time, pursued his love of motor racing. 

In his younger days he tried his hand at motor racing, and was seen as promising until he was in a serious crash at Silverstone. 

It left another driver dead, and Matthews with an eye injury that ended his racing career. 

Instead, he concentrated on building his own second-hand car empire, with motor dealerships and interests in luxury coach-making.

His first marriage was to Anita Taylor, one of Britain’s first women racing drivers. They had a daughter, Nina, but divorced three years later in 1969.

He married for a second time to artist Jane Parker and after moving out of their bungalow in Rotherham the couple lived on a 30-acre, 18th Century estate in rural Lincolnshire. As their fortunes rose, there were spells living in Paris, then Monaco.

They had three sons, James, Spencer and Michael – the latter died when he was 22 during an expedition on Mount Everest. 

Mr Matthews ventured into hotels, buying up Eden Rock in St Barts in 1995 with his wife Jane. 

The five-star Eden Rock hotel, where rooms can cost £5,000 a night, has become a favourite of celebrities and royals including Tom Hanks, Beyonce and Leonardo Di Caprio along with Matthews’s son James and his new wife, Pippa. The rest of the Middleton clan have also been spotted at the resort. 

Mr Matthews and Jane now live on the island. He remains on bail, with no travel restrictions, but he has been regularly summoned to Paris for interview.

St Barts is a French island, so part of the European Union. Mr Matthews is not considered a flight risk, or likely to interfere with witnesses, and has co-operated fully with the Paris authorities.

MailOnline has contacted Pippa Middleton and David Matthews’ representatives for comment. 

A spokesperson for the family has previously said: ‘David Matthews categorically denies the allegation and unequivocally contests the untrue and scandalous accusation.’ 

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