Ex-wife urges judge to jail Sir Frederick Barclay over unpaid millions

·5-min read

The ex-wife of 87-year-old businessman Sir Frederick Barclay has complained that he owes her tens of millions of pounds and asked a judge hand him a jail sentence.

Lady Hiroko Barclay, 79, 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.

She told Sir Jonathan Cohen, who began overseeing a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Monday, that Sir Frederick had the means to pay but was aiming to “string things out” until “one or other of us dies”.

Sir Frederick disputes her claims.

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

Lady Barclay said Sir Frederick had “the means to pay”, adding: “For him to pretend otherwise is false.”

She told Sir Jonathan, in a written witness statement: “He has no respect for me or for the court.

“His aim is simply to string things out, hiding behind a web of complex structures (the initial purpose behind which was the avoidance of tax), allowing our daughter Amanda to fund all his financial needs, until one or other of us dies.”

Sir Frederick and his twin brother Sir David were among the UK’s most high-profile businessmen.

Sir David died in January last year, aged 86.

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

Their business interests included Telegraph Media Group and The Ritz hotel in London.

The family also has links to the Channel Islands and Monaco.

Sir Jonathan had 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.

Lady Barclay said the judge had ordered Sir Frederick to pay two £50 million lump sums.

“Frederick has not paid one penny towards the first lump sum of £50 million,” she told the judge.

“Interest is running at £10,958 a day.”

She added: “Despite Frederick’s protestations of having no money, his life continues as before.

“Financially he has everything he wants and needs.

“He takes great care to ensure funds do not come into his hands and certainly that they do not stay there.

“This is not new.

“It is part of his estate planning and tax avoidance.

“During the last years of our marriage, he deliberately ran our joint account on a huge overdraft of millions of pounds.”

She said Sir Frederick continued to live in their “palatial” family home “seemingly undisturbed” with “access to his ballroom” and “attended by his housekeeper, security guard and driver”.

Lady Barclay said “loan notes” – which, the judge was told by a lawyer representing Lady Barclay, were worth £545 million –  were a “means” at Sir Frederick’s disposal.

“He is wilfully determined not to progress any efforts to make them available to pay my lump sum of £50 million,” she said.

“He is engaging in a charade that he is trying to do everything he can, whilst in reality doing nothing at all.”

Lady Barclay argued that Sir Frederick had an interest in Brecqhou, one of the Channel Islands.

She said Sir Frederick, and his brother David, had acquired the freehold of Brecqhou in 1993, and paid £2.3 million.

Lady Barclay also said Sir Frederick and his brother had once fought on a boat during a holiday.

“There was a fight on a boat on the holiday,” she told the judge.

“They were punching each other.”

Stewart Leech QC, who is leading Lady Barclay’s legal team, told the judge in a written case outline: “The situation now is that we are more than a year on from when the first £50 million was due and not one penny has been paid.

“The second was due three months ago.

“He does not even make to an alternative proposal for payment of the first £50 million or any part of it.

“It is clear he has no intention to pay.”

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 made 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 that there were “only two viable routes” to “try and raise the lump sums”.

Mr Dearle said Sir Frederick could try to sell his interest in the island of Brecqhou and/or attempt to redeem loan notes issued by two trusts.

“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.”

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

Charles Howard QC, who is leading Sir Frederick’s legal team, told the judge in a written case outline: “The court must be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Sir Frederick has wilfully refused or culpably neglected to pay the monies owed.”

He added: “Culpable neglect can readily be dismissed given the efforts on his behalf by Marcus Dearle.

“The court is fully entitled to again consider those efforts in also dismissing any suggestion of wilful refusal.”

He also disputed any suggestion of Sir Frederick trying to “string things out”, and added: “The evidence could not be more to the contrary.”

The hearing continues.

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