05 May 2021

Sir Fred Barclay’s behaviour ‘reprehensible’ in money fight with wife – judge

05 May 2021

Businessman Sir Frederick Barclay behaved in a “reprehensible” fashion during a High Court fight over money with his estranged wife, a judge has said.

Mr Justice Cohen said Sir Frederick, 86, sold a luxury yacht and “applied the equity for his own use” in breach of orders.

The judge said, in a ruling published on Wednesday, that he regarded Sir Frederick’s behaviour as “reprehensible”.

Sir Frederick and Lady Hiroko Barclay, who is in her late 70s, had fought at a private trial in the Family Division of the High Court earlier this year, following the breakdown of a 34-year marriage.

Mr Justice Cohen said he had ruled that Lady Hiroko Barclay should receive lump sums totalling £100 million.

She had wanted £120 million, Sir Frederick had made an offer which might have led to getting nothing, the judge said.

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

The judge had published a detailed ruling, given to Sir Frederick, Lady Barclay and their lawyers, following the private trial.

Sir Frederick and Lady Barclay had disagreed over whether that ruling should be made public.

He said the ruling should stay private, she said it should be published.

Mr Justice Cohen, who had allowed journalists to attend the trial but placed wide limits on what could be reported, said he had decided to publish a shortened version giving some detail.

“The principal criticism that I made of (Sir Frederick) related to his treatment of orders made for the production of documents and answers to questions,” he said, in the shortened ruling published on Wednesday.

“Those orders were made specifically in the context of (him) seeking to argue that loan notes to which he was entitled and which constituted the vast bulk of his wealth were not likely to be honoured, in full or in part, by reason of an alleged absence of liquidity in the underlying family businesses.”

The judge said Sir Frederick “repeatedly” ignored orders to produce documents or answer questions.

He added: “Part of (Sir Frederick’s) available assets included a luxury yacht which was on the market for sale.

“I made orders intended to control the sale and the use of the proceeds.

“He completely ignored those orders, sold the yacht, and applied the equity for his own use.

“I regarded that behaviour as reprehensible.”

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay after receiving their knighthoods (PA Wire)

Sir Frederick said, in a statement, on Wednesday: “I am saddened that after 34 years my marriage has come to an end.

“This was not something I wanted.”

He said he hoped that Lady Hiroko could find happiness and wished her well.

Sir Frederick and Lady Barclay had been estranged but still married when the trial was staged.

A spokesman for Sir Frederick said their divorce had now been finalised.

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

Sir David died aged 86 in January.

Their interests included the Telegraph Newspaper Group and The Ritz hotel in London.

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

Mr Justice Cohen recently signalled an end to the Barclays’ marriage at a separate hearing, by issuing a divorce decree.

Lady Hiroko had petitioned for divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour, he was told.

Mr Justice Cohen pronounced a decree nisi.

A marriage does not formally end until a decree absolute is made.

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