Business tycoon Sir Frederick Barclay was charged on Monday with refusing to pay a £100million divorce settlement to his estranged wife following a bitter marital breakdown.
Lady Hiroko Barclay has appeared in the High Court in London to ask that her ex-husband be sent to prison for contempt of court after allegedly breaking the rules.
She said Frederick Barclay – who, together with his late twin brother David, built a business empire spanning prestigious hotels including London’s Ritz, shipping companies and newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph – could get it all. money he wanted, but was holding it back.
In May 2021, in the High Court, Judge Jonathan Cohen ordered Frederick Barclay to pay £50m of the £100m divorce settlement last year, and the remaining £50m in april.
The settlement was one of the most significant divorce awards in recent English legal history.
In a document prepared for the court on Monday, Hiroko Barclay’s lawyers said: “We are confident. . . that the court will be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that [Frederick Barclay] has or had the means to pay each of the judicial debts and that he refused or neglected to do so”.
Lawyers for Frederick Barclay said in court documents he was unable to pay the divorce settlement and stayed “up at night” for fear of jail.
In a document, the lawyers said he was ‘highly motivated to comply with orders due to his abject fear of jail’ but ‘does not have the money to make the payments’.
Frederick Barclay owns a 50% stake in a sprawling estate on the private island of Brecqhou in the Channel Islands, but the document adds: “There is no prospect of sale/transfer to the wider Barclay family. .”
Cohen in May last year called Barclay’s behavior ‘reprehensible’ after the tycoon ‘completely ignored’ court orders and sold a luxury yacht.
The business empire assembled by Frederick and David Barclay includes a series of assets held by a trust controlled by relatives.
Hiroko Barclay told the court on Monday that Frederick got into a fight with David on a yacht as part of a battle for control of family businesses.
She told her ex-husband’s solicitor Charles Howard QC: ‘There was a fight on a boat when we were on holiday. . . David and Frederick were punching each other.
Frederick and David Barclay once kept a low profile, but Frederick sued his late brother’s relatives in 2020.
It has been alleged that David was complicit in the tapping of 1,000 private conversations of Frederick at the Ritz Hotel.
In 2021, Frederick reached a settlement with his nephews and withdrew a High Court legal action against them for the tapping of his conversations at the Ritz.
Monday’s hearing could be reported in full after Cohen denied a request by Frederick Barclay’s nephews to keep certain financial information private.
Media groups led by The Guardian and including the Financial Times opposed the bid. The court hearing continues.