The two brothers who own the Daily Telegraph newspaper have been summoned to give evidence in a long-running battle at the High Court in London between their uncle Sir Frederick Barclay and his former wife over an unpaid £100mn divorce settlement.
Judge Jonathan Cohen ordered Aidan Barclay, chair of the Telegraph Media Group and his brother Howard Barclay to appear in court on March 31 to give evidence about their uncle’s financial means. In the summons, the judge said that it “appeared that their enthusiasm to engage in correspondence with Sir Frederick and his advisers has been less than wholehearted”.
The intervention came as Frederick Barclay, 88, appeared in court on Monday for an adjourned sentencing hearing. He was found to be in contempt of court last July over his failure to pay £245,000 maintenance and legal costs to his ex-wife Lady Hiroko Barclay. She had brought an application to have her former husband committed to prison for contempt of court after he failed to pay the £100mn divorce settlement she secured in 2021.
Frederick Barclay’s legal team had previously told the court that he was unable to pay because his assets were either illiquid or could not be accessed without the help of Aidan and Howard Barclay, the sons of his late twin brother David, who control the family businesses.
Frederick helped David, who died in 2021, build a business empire spanning property and hotels as well as the Daily Telegraph. The court was told during hearings last July that a “war between the two sides of the family” meant his nephews would not help their uncle access funds.
On Monday, Charles Howard KC acting for Frederick Barclay again asked for the case to be adjourned and told the judge that there were “ongoing negotiations” which could “settle many matters”. The court heard last month that a meeting had been scheduled between Frederick Barclay and his nephew Howard Barclay.
Judge Cohen agreed to a further adjournment of the case but said he would also summon Aidan and Howard Barclay to give evidence at the end of the month about the financial position of their uncle because it was “the most constructive way forward”.
The judge said that if a financial settlement was reached before then the two men would not need to appear. The judge has previously urged both sides to reach an agreement and had told Frederick Barclay that it was “absolutely essential” that Hiroko Barclay was “properly provided for”.
The case has exposed tensions at the heart of one of Britain’s most powerful — and notoriously secretive — families. The two sides of the family were embroiled in a separate court battle in 2020 in which Frederick and his daughter Amanda accused his nephews of bugging their conversations at the Ritz hotel. That case was settled in 2021.
Howard and Aidan Barclay declined to comment.