The billionaire tycoon Sir Frederick Barclay's nephews bugged the Ritz Hotel's winter garden after being "seriously concerned". According to the High Court, it posed a "significant risk to the family business".
85-year-old Sir Frederick is involved in a bitter fight before the Supreme Court with three sons of his twin brother Sir David, which has been done over 94 hours of secret records over several months as part of what his lawyers call "large-scale industrial espionage" have designated & # 39 ;.
The businessman and daughter Amanda sue Alistair, Aidan and Howard Barclay, Aidan's son Andrew and Philip Peters – a director of a number of companies in the Barclay Group – after the "sophisticated covert recording system" was discovered in January.
Last month, Sir Frederick released recordings showing how his nephew Alistair handled a listening device that was said to have recorded more than 1,000 separate conversations.
The High Court has also previously heard that the Ritz was sold at "half the market price" after conversations between Sir Frederick and a Saudi investor who offered £ 1.3 billion for the London landmark were secretly recorded.
Sir Frederick Barclay (right) and his twin brother Sir David (left) pose after receiving their chivalry from the Queen at Buckingham Palace
In a rare public statement that underlined the fierce civil war between the Barclays, Howard (left) and Aidan Barclay (right), sons of Sir Frederick's twin brother Sir David, responded to claims that they owned the legendary London hotel a Qatar sold buyers in March for "half the market price"
But Aidan and Howard Barclay dismissed this allegation in a public statement last month, accusing Sir Frederick of "consistently, misleading, and damagingly informing the media about us and our family businesses."
It was alleged that they sold the legendary Ritz hotel to a Qatari buyer in March for between £ 700m and £ 750m, at "half the market price".
On Monday, all five of the defendants filed their formal defense against Sir Frederick and Amanda Barclay's lawsuit, saying that it was "necessary and reasonable" to intercept the Ritz to protect the Barclay group.
All five admitted that "the records contained applicants' private and confidential information" and accepted that Sir Frederick and Amanda were "entitled to general damages" for breach of trust, misuse of private information and violation of data protection laws.
Heather Rogers QC said: "The accused will try to negotiate reasonable compensation / compensation with the claimants."
However, the accused deny that their actions have caused losses to the “claimants”.
The written defense claims that Alistair Barclay "instigated" the eavesdropping after the accused were seriously concerned about certain actions and statements by Sir Frederick and Amanda Barclay and their possible impact on the (Barclay) group and / or on the accused and their interests had become & # 39 ;.
Ms. Rogers said: "The actions of the accused … were taken in the light of these concerns and the belief (represented by each of them) that they are necessary and reasonable to protect the interests of the accused, including the protection of the group and his interests. & # 39;
Amanda Barclay with Anton Du Beke
The document claims that after talking to Sir Frederick and Amanda, Alistair was very concerned about what appeared to be a remarkable change in their behavior that posed a significant risk to the brothers Aidan and Howard Barclay and their interests (i.e., his Brothers and the group) and his own interests ”.
The defense states that Alistair Barclay spoke to Andrew Barclay and then "without consulting the other defendants and without their prior knowledge, decided at the beginning of November 2019 to place and place a commercially available recording device in the Ritz winter garden" & # 39 ;.
It added: "Alistair Barclay had no intention of hurting Sir Frederick or Amanda."
The document also alleges that while the accused "tried to avoid the public and prevent intrusion into their private lives and financial affairs," the applicants "through the unsubstantiated language and unnecessary information used in previous court hearings were used "to have asked for advertising.
The defense added that the applicants also "made secret footage of Alistair Barclay available to the media, alerting the parties to private affairs."
In a statement, a spokesman for the accused said: “As clearly stated in our defense, we do not deny that the records were made and discussed between us.
& # 39; The measures we took were the result of serious concerns about Sir Frederick's behavior and were believed to be necessary and appropriate to protect the Barclay Group's business interests from potential harm.
Sir Frederick has released recordings showing how his nephew Alistair deals with a listening device that is said to have recorded over 1,000 separate conversations at the Ritz
“We never published the recorded information and never wanted to publish it.
“We didn't conspire to violate Sir Frederick or Amanda's business or financial interests. That was never our intention and there was no alleged conspiracy.
“We cannot see how Sir Frederick or Amanda could have suffered an economic loss from the recordings. They have not provided any details to support their claims in this regard, and we are seeking legal action to have those claims canceled.
"We regret any hardship inflicted on Sir Frederick and Amanda Barclay, but we have always intended to act in the best interests of the whole family."
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