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Sir Frederick Barclay: Billionaire releases video of ‘nephew handling bugging device in Ritz’ | UK News

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Footage allegedly showing a nephew of billionaire businessman Sir Frederick Barclay handling a bugging device has been released to the public, amid claims Sir Frederick was the subject of a “deliberate and premeditated invasion of his privacy”.

The covert video forms key evidence in a bitter High Court battle between the 85-year-old and members of his brother’s family.

The footage appears to show the businessman’s nephew Alistair handling a listening device inside the Ritz hotel, in January this year.

Alistair Barclay, along with others, is being sued by his uncle, Frederick Barclay
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Alistair Barclay, along with others, is being sued by his uncle, Sir Frederick Barclay

Sir Frederick and his daughter Amanda are suing his nephews Alistair, Aidan and Howard, the sons of his twin brother Sir David Barclay.

Aidan’s son Andrew and Philip Peters – a director of a number of Barclay family companies, are also being sued for invasion of privacy, breach of confidence and data protection laws.

In High Court argument, Sir Fredrick’s lawyers allege “commercial espionage on a vast scale”.

The Barclay brothers’ businesses include the Telegraph Media Group, the delivery company Yodel, online retailer the Very Group and at the time of the alleged surveillance, London’s Ritz hotel.

At a High Court hearing earlier in May, lawyers for Sir Frederick and daughter Amanda claimed the Ritz had been sold for “half the market price” after conversations between Sir Frederick and a Saudi investor, who was offering £1.3bn for the London landmark, were secretly recorded.

Releasing the video on Monday, Sir Frederick said: “I do not want anyone else to go through the awful experience of having their personal and private conversations listened to by scores of strangers.

File photo dated 31/10/00 of multi-millionaires Sir David Barclay (left) and his twin brother Sir Frederick after receiving their knighthoods from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The High Court is set to hear the latest round of the legal battle between Sir Frederick Barclay and his nephews over secret recordings made by a bug placed in the conservatory at the Ritz hotel.
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Sir David Barclay (left) and his twin brother Sir Frederick after receiving their knighthoods in 2000

“It is surely in everyone’s interests for the law to be changed to prevent people, outside the authorities, using sophisticated spying devices that have such an intrusive impact.”

He added: “I am putting this video evidence forward as a graphic demonstration of how easy it is to spy on people in public places and to help bring about legislation to prevent such damaging intrusion.”

Hefin Rees QC, representing Sir Frederick and Amanda, said the recordings “captured over 1,000 separate conversations over a period of months”, including conversations with their lawyers as well as “bankers and business people”.

The Ritz was sold in March, allegedly for half its market value
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The Ritz was sold in March, allegedly for half its market value

He said that “a separate Wi-Fi bug was also used” which was supplied by private investigations firm Quest, which “invoiced for 405 hours of their time to listen and transcribe the recordings”.

Mr Rees said the defendants heard “Sir Frederick’s conversations with Sidra Capital, which at the time had made an initial offer of some £1.3bn for the acquisition of the Ritz hotel”.

He added: “Despite this, the defendants sold the Ritz hotel to another buyer from Qatar at a price that appears to be for half the market price. One is left to speculate why.”

The Barclay brothers are deeply private in both their business dealings and in the personal lives.

They are rarely pictured in the press. One of the few occasions was in 2000, when the twins received a knighthood from the Queen.

Heather Rogers QC, representing all five defendants, accepted that “the claimants have been recorded without their consent or knowledge”, adding: “It is correct that the defendants shared some of the transcripts between themselves.”

But Ms Rogers said: “This is not a case in which private information has been obtained and then widely disseminated to the press.”

Filephoto dated 17/04/08 of the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly, London. Sir Frederick Barclay's nephews sold the Ritz hotel for "half the market price" after secretly recording conversations between the billionaire co-owner and a Saudi investor offering 1.3 billion for the London landmark, the High Court has heard.
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The hotel is located on Piccadilly in central London

She added: “This is a dispute about family members and, from the defendants’ point of view, it is unfortunate that they are being canvassed in public rather than resolved in the family.”

Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg said the heart of the case was quite a simple claim.

“This isn’t Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, something out of Dickens. It’s Barclay against Barclay. It’s Frederick Barclay suing the children of his brother for allegedly invading his privacy.”

A formal defence to the High Court claim has not yet been filed and a trial is due to take place at a later date.

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