Belfast Telegraph

Private evidence request refused

A judge has refused to allow a property developer embroiled in a legal fight with two of the UK's best-known businessmen to give evidence at a private High Court hearing.

Patrick McKillen, from Belfast, said evidence he wished to give related to "personal financial matters" and should not be heard in public.

Several media organisations objected to Mr McKillen's evidence being heard behind closed doors at the High Court in London.

High Court judge Mr Justice David Richards dismissed Mr McKillen's privacy application. The judge said the nature of Mr McKillen's evidence came "nowhere near" overcoming the "basic requirement for open justice".

Mr McKillen is embroiled in a court battle with Sir David Barclay and twin brother Sir Frederick Barclay over the control of three of London's most famous hotels.

All three men were investors in Coroin - the company which owns Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels, Mr Justice David Richards has been told during a High Court trial which started in London in March.

Mr McKillen sued - claiming that "company affairs" were conducted in a "manner unfairly prejudicial to his interests". The Barclay brothers deny Mr McKillen's allegation of "unlawful" behaviour and say his complaints are designed to "embarrass" them and "tarnish" their reputations.

Mr McKillen has already given evidence in public at the trial, which continues. He wanted to return to give more evidence at a private hearing.

Newspapers including the Guardian, the Financial Times, The Times, The Irish Times and the Irish Independent objected to Mr McKillen giving evidence in private - as did broadcaster RTE and the Press Association news agency. The Barclay brothers and other Corion directors also opposed the application.

The judge said allowing Mr McKillen to give evidence in private could be viewed as a "significant departure" from fundamental common law principles of open justice and natural justice. He said any departure from those principles had to be done on the basis of "necessity" not "convenience".

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