Belfast Telegraph

Developer loses court battle for control of top hotels to tycoon brothers

By Cathy Gordon and Brian Farmer

A Belfast property developer has lost a marathon High Court battle with two of the UK's best-known businessmen.

Patrick McKillen was fighting Sir David Barclay and his twin Sir Frederick over control of a £1bn company which owns three of London's most famous hotels.

A judge in London yesterday ruled against Mr McKillen following a trial spanning more than two months.

All three men were investors in Coroin — the company which owns and manages Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels.

Mr McKillen claimed that “company affairs” were conducted in a “manner unfairly prejudicial to his interests”.

The Barclay brothers disputed Mr McKillen's claims and said his allegations were designed to “tarnish” their reputations and “embarrass” them.

In a lengthy written ruling, Mr Justice David Richards announced that two sets of proceedings brought by Mr McKillen had failed and were dismissed.

In a statement issued on their behalf, the Barclays welcomed the ruling, which was described as a “comprehensive victory” for them.

Richard Faber, speaking on behalf of the Barclay interests, said: “We are delighted that today's judgment has completely vindicated the Barclay interests' position and brought to an end this unnecessary and distracting dispute.

“After 30 days in court the judge has looked in detail at every aspect of Mr McKillen's case, and has found it to be without any merit.

“It should never have been necessary for the Barclay interests to defend these baseless proceedings, which we always believed were an attempt by Mr McKillen to tarnish the Barclay interests' reputation in the misconceived hope that they would then sell out to him.

“The High Court has now confirmed what we always knew to be the case: that the Barclay family and its interests have always behaved entirely lawfully and properly in their business dealings.”

A statement issued later on behalf of Mr McKillen said he “firmly believes in his claim and is obviously considering an appeal”.

In his introduction to the case in a 158-page judgment, Mr Justice Richards said that at the “heart of this case lies a battle for control” of three of London's “leading hotels”.

Two allegations formed the basis of proceedings brought by Mr McKillen.

In the first, Mr McKillen alleged that the affairs of the company had been conducted in a manner unfairly prejudicial to his interests as a shareholder.

He had sought an order “that the shares held by companies associated with the Barclay brothers be sold to him”, which the judge said would have given him control of the company.

In the second set of proceedings he sought “damages in tort for conspiracy to cause loss by unlawful means and for inducing breaches of contract”.

The judge announced that both sets of proceedings failed. There was “no foundation”, he said, for the damages claim.

Mr Justice Richards said Mr McKillen's proceedings principally concerned the steps taken by the Barclay brothers and by companies associated with them (the Barclay interests) during 2011 to obtain control of Coroin.

In his conclusions he said that Mr McKillen “cannot establish any conduct of the affairs of the company which has been unfairly prejudicial to him”.

Belfast Telegraph

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