Sir Frederick Barclay will not give evidence at contempt trial, judge told

Sir Jonathan Cohen is considering the latest stage of a dispute between Sir Frederick and his ex-wife, Lady Hiroko Barclay.

26 July 2022

Businessman Sir Frederick Barclay will not give evidence at a trial after being accused of failing to pay tens of millions of pounds he owes his ex-wife, a judge has been told.

Sir Jonathan Cohen is considering the latest stage of a dispute over money between Sir Frederick, 87, and Lady Hiroko Barclay, 79, at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Lady Barclay has asked the judge to hand Sir Frederick a jail sentence.

She says Sir Frederick has breached orders after being told to pay her more than £100 million following the breakdown of their 34-year marriage, and is in contempt of court.

Lady Hiroko Barclay (left) leaves the High Court (Kirsty O'Connor/PA)
Lady Hiroko Barclay (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Lady Barclay told Sir Jonathan that Sir Frederick has the means to pay but is aiming to “string things out” until “one or other of us dies”.

Sir Frederick disputes her allegations.

Barrister Charles Howard QC, who leads Sir Frederick’s legal team, on Tuesday told the judge he was not proposing to “call” his client.

The Barclay brothers were among the UK’s most high-profile businessmen, with business interests including Telegraph Media Group and The Ritz hotel in London.

Sir Frederick says he does not have access to funds, and the money is held in trusts.

Lady Barclay says “loan notes” were at Sir Frederick’s disposal, and her lawyer told the judge they were worth £545 million.

She also argues that he has an interest in Brecqhou, in the Channel Islands, where Sir David lived.

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay after receiving their knighthoods
Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay (Michael Stephens/PA)

“Brecqhou is freehold – he owns 50%,” she told the judge in Tuesday. “I could get money from that.”

Lady Barclay added: “He has got no money? Right.”

She said Sir Frederick was “the boss” and told the judge: “He could provide money but will not.”

Lawyer Marcus Dearle, who is based at Miles Preston and represents Sir Frederick, told the judge in a written statement that “all steps” had been taken to raise money owed.

“In the light of his age and health, (Sir Frederick) has specifically instructed me and his personal adviser, Martin Clarke, to take on his behalf all necessary steps to raise the lump sums,” he said.

“As a result, Frederick’s direct involvement has been limited and he has not been engaged with much of the detail in these proceedings, but I can confirm that he has not interfered with or thwarted our efforts to raise the lump sums in any way.”

He said it had become clear there were “only two viable routes” to try and raise the lump sums: Sir Frederick could try to sell his interest in the island of Brecqhou and/or attempt to redeem loan notes issued by two trusts.

Brecqhou island
Brecqhou island (Alamy/PA)

“All steps have been taken to try and raise the lump sums and ensure Frederick’s compliance with the order,” he said.

“However, as the court will see, despite his best attempts, Frederick has not yet been able to raise the lump sums.

“Frederick is currently being financially supported entirely by his daughter Amanda, by way of a loan and payments by way of gifts.”

Sir Jonathan had earlier ruled that Sir Frederick should pay Lady Barclay sums totalling £100 million after overseeing their fight over money.

The judge criticised Sir Frederick, saying he had behaved in a “reprehensible” fashion.

He said the businessman had sold a luxury yacht and “applied the equity for his own use”, in breach of orders.

The judge said Lady Barclay had wanted £120 million and Sir Frederick had made an offer which might have led her to getting nothing.

Sir Frederick had been ordered to make two £50 million payments.

The hearing continues and is expected to end on Thursday.

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