Sir Frederick Barclay, whose fortune was estimated at £ 6 billion until May, faces the possibility of being sent to prison at the age of 87 after a high court judge ruled that he should be tried for non-payment of part of a £. 100 m divorce agreement.
The court learned that the owner of the Telegraph Media Group had considered seeking legal aid to fight in a divorce battle with his 34-year-old wife.
Barclay, who still owns half of Brecqhou’s private island and whose family sold the Ritz hotel for about £ 800 million in 2020, is now “terrified” of being sent to prison for not having paid the £ 50 million because of his wife. June.
He was also ordered separately and also paid his wife’s legal expenses, which are said to be close to £ 500,000. The court ruled that Barclay’s nephews, the children of his twin brother Sir David Barclay, pay his legal fees, but not those of his wife.
As evidence, Stewart Leech QC, by Hiroko Barclay, said the legal playing field was not the same. “She owes her lawyers more than half a million pounds and Sir Frederick Barclay owes them almost nothing.”
Earlier this year, the court was told Barclay had also “unilaterally halved” the £ 60,000 maintenance payment granted to his wife each month.
The court learned that Barclay, who began his life as a painter and decorator alongside his brother, cannot access his fortune, which is in a complex series of trusts.
Neither Barclay nor his brother, David, who died last year, were beneficiaries of the family trusts, which are essentially divided between Barclay’s daughter, Amanda, and three of David Barclay’s children.
At the high court hearing, it was stated that Barclay said he had no control over the complex trust structure. “I have nothing,” he said.
Both Lady Barclay, 78, and Barclay appeared in court via an online link on Thursday, but the judge ordered that both parties should appear in person at the three-day hearing scheduled for July. ‘non-payment is a quasi-criminal offense.
Lawyers representing Barclay have indicated that they will defend Lady Barclay’s application.
Sign up for First Edition, our free daily newsletter, every weekday morning at 7:00 BST
Scot Young, a landlord, was one of the few men to be jailed for contempt of court as a result of a non-payment of a divorce order when he was jailed for six months in 2013.
In March, the court was told Barclay had been evicted from his home. His lawyer, Charles Howard QC, told the court he “has no money and his bank statements … prove it.”
Sir Jonathan Cohen, who is hearing the case, criticized Barclay in his final order last May, saying he had behaved “reprehensibly” during the dispute after selling his luxury yacht and “enforcing the capital for its own use “in default. of orders.
During Thursday’s hearing, the Guardian requested that the case-file documents be released to the media prior to the sentencing hearing, which was largely successful.