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Sir Frederick Barclay’s ex-wife asks judge to commit him to jail in money fight

·3-min read

Businessman Sir Frederick Barclay’s ex-wife has asked a judge to commit him to prison after alleging that he breached orders made in a High Court fight over money.

Lady Hiroko Barclay said 87-year-old Sir Frederick is in contempt of court and accused him of breaching orders relating to the payment of money and production of documents.

Detail of her application emerged at a preliminary online public hearing, overseen by judge Sir Jonathan Cohen, in the Family Division of the High Court on Thursday.

Lawyers representing Sir Frederick indicated he would mount a defence.

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

Sir Jonathan ruled in May that Lady Barclay should receive lump sums totalling £100 million following the breakdown of a 34-year marriage.

She says Sir Frederick has breached orders made by Sir Jonathan to hand over half of the £100 million and to produce documents.

Committal hearings are normally heard in public.

Lawyers representing Sir Frederick had argued that Lady Barclay’s application should be considered at private hearings, as evidence relating to confidential financial information would be aired.

Sir Jonathan dismissed that application and said hearings would be staged in public, but he indicated that it might be necessary to hear some evidence in private or impose reporting restriction.

He said the final hearing would be staged early next year.

Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay after receiving their knighthoods
Sir Frederick Barclay, right, and twin brother Sir David after receiving their knighthoods in 2000 (Michael Stephens/PA)

Lawyers representing Sir Frederick asked if the final hearing could be staged online to avoid him having to travel because of his age.

The judge did not rule out that possibility.

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

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

Sir Jonathan has overseen private hearings relating to the Barclays’ fight over money. He allowed reporters to attended hearings, name Sir Frederick and Lady Barclay, and report some detail.

The judge criticised Sir Frederick in a ruling in May, saying he had behaved in a “reprehensible” fashion during the dispute.

Sir Jonathan said Sir Frederick had sold a luxury yacht and “applied the equity for his own use” in breach of orders.

He ruled Lady Barclay should get £100 million.

The judge said she had wanted £120 million and Sir Frederick had made an offer which might have led her to getting nothing.

Lady Barclay returned to court in October to make an application for enforcement of the judge’s award.

A barrister representing Lady Barclay outlined the basis of her application to the judge on Thursday.

Stewart Leech QC said she was applying for Sir Frederick to be committed to prison for breaching an order to produce documents and pay £50 million.

Charles Howard QC, who represented Sir Frederick, said Lady Barclay would have to show he had the “means to meet” the £50 million and had “wilfully refused or neglected” to pay.

Mr Leech and the PA news agency had argued that committal hearings should be in public.

He also said it would be “highly unusual” for a final committal hearing to be staged online.

Sir Jonathan said Sir Frederick’s application for a private hearing was “plainly unsustainable”, but the application for remote committal hearings only arose because of Sir Frederick’s age.

Both Sir Frederick and Lady Barclay, who is in her 70s, attended Thursday’s hearing.

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