Former Barclays boss John Varley has argued that financier Amanda Staveley's "little-known" firm overstated its role in a financial crisis-era cash call at the heart of a £1.6bn legal battle.
Giving evidence to the High Court, Mr Varley said that Ms Staveley's business – PCP – was not a key player during a blockbuster emergency fundraising in 2008 when Middle Eastern investors saved Barclays from collapse.
Ms Stavely is suing the bank over claims that PCP was treated unfairly during the rescue, when it represented Abu Dhabi investors whose money helped the lender avoid a taxpayer bailout.
Mr Varley – who appeared in court despite the coronavirus crisis and is expected to be cross-examined for four days –said in his witness statement that he believed PCP "greatly overstates its own role and significance in the events of October 2008".
He argued that at that time the bank was after investors with deep pockets as well as "instant name recognition and credibility in the mind of the market" so that their backing would be a "source of comfort in a very jittery environment".
PCP would not have fulfilled that criteria, Mr Varley said, dismissing it as a "little-known party with unknown financial resources and no track record as an investor in the public markets".
Ms Staveley's contact Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whom she also helped buy Manchester City FC, became the bank's largest shareholder after contributing £3.5bn to the deal.
At the same time, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber al-Thani, the chairman of Qatar Holding, injected £2.3bn into the bank.
The businesswoman is suing Barclays over claims that PCP did not receive the same fees as the Qatari investors. However, Barclays argues that she was only an adviser and not an investor.
Mr Varley said that at the time he was concerned the number of advisers involved could slow down what was an already cumbersome process.
Earlier in the trial Ms Staveley, a former girlfriend of Prince Andrew, said she felt she was only invited to a party hosted by former Barclays banker Roger Jenkins and attended by George Clooney as part of an attempt by the bank to cut her out and get direct access to Sheikh Mansour.
Her case means that the twists and turns of the events that led to the crucial 2008 fundraising have resurfaced in a London court once again.
A criminal trial brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over the cash call collapsed earlier this year after a jury took just five hours to acquit three ex-Barclays bankers on all counts.
A parallel case against Barclays itself was also thrown out in 2018, while a criminal case against Mr Varley was dismissed last year by the Court of Appeal.
The case continues.