Sir Frederick Barclay’s ex-wife claims ‘conspiracy’ for £100million divorce payout at contempt hearing

Sir Frederick Barclay faces a High Court contempt hearing (AP)

Former press baron Sir Frederick Barclay is accused by his ex-wife of a ‘charade and conspiracy’ to ensure he dies before she receives a £100m share of his fortune, the Supreme Court heard.

Sir Frederick, 87, who was co-owner of the Telegraph Media Groupwas ordered to pay two lump sum payments of £50million to ex-wife Lady Hiroko Barclay, 79, after their relationship broke up wedding.

Having failed to hand over the money, the aging businessman now faces contempt proceedings and a request from Lady Barclay that he be jailed.

She claims Sir Frederick deliberately withholds money ‘to chain things up…until one or the other of us dies’, with business interests controlled by a network of trusts and financial control passed on to his daughter Amanda.

He denies willfully refusing or failing to pay his ex-wife, arguing that he is “terrified” of jail but does not have access to the money to settle the divorce bill.

“Frederick says he can’t pay. He says he has no money. I don’t believe so,” Lady Hiroko told the High Court on Monday.

“It’s not that he can’t pay, but that he won’t. He never intended to do so. »

Lady Hiroko Barclay leaving the High Court in London in 2019 (PA)

Lady Hiroko Barclay leaving the High Court in London in 2019 (PA)

In witness statements, she accused Sir Frederick of aiming to ‘chain things together, hiding behind a web of complex structures’, saying: ‘If Frederick dies before I receive my first lump sum, my monthly maintenance will stop. .

“I will find myself virtually penniless and almost certainly homeless after a relationship/marriage of nearly half a century, where our standard of living was beyond extravagant.”

Sir Frederick was ordered to face a trial in contempt of the High Court for failure to pay the first of two lump sums of £50million, together with £185,000 legal fees from Lady Barclay and £210,000 £ alimony.

Lady Barclay told the court in her witness statement that her ex-husband “structured his finances to ensure there is very little in his estate”, and wrote it out of his will.

She relies on monthly child support payments to pay the £10,000 rent for her Knightsbridge flat, but says of her ex-husband: ‘Despite Frederick’s protests that he has no money, his life goes on as before .

“Financially, he has everything he wants and needs. He takes great care to make sure the funds don’t fall into his hands and certainly don’t stay there.

The contempt trial is expected to relate to £545m worth of loan notes, held by a trust of which Sir Frederick is said to be the ‘primary beneficiary’, his 50% freehold ownership of the island of Brecqhou, the location of million from the sale of a private yacht, and the future of the family home which is on sale for £22.5million.

Sir Frederick Barclay (AP)

Sir Frederick Barclay (AP)

Giving evidence, Lady Barclay has repeatedly said her ex-husband ‘has power’ and insisted his lifestyle has not been affected by his alleged money troubles. “Whenever he wanted money, he could get it,” she said.

She agreed that a prison sentence would be “draconian”, but insisted: “It’s the only language Frederic will understand”.

“Lies, charades and smokescreens put forth by Frederick and extended family to prevent Frederick from having to pay me what the court ordered,” she added.

“They hide behind privacy and privacy apps to ensure their behavior and tactics remain secret.

“They managed to do this despite all the articles in the newspapers that everything in the family courts is now more transparent.

“The Barclay family think they can get away with this. I’m confident that so far they have.

Sir Frederick was embroiled in a high-profile falling out with members of his extended family when he discovered his conversations with his daughter had been secretly recorded at the Ritz hotel from September 2019.

He sued his late twin brother’s sons, Alistair, Aidan and Howard, and Aidan’s son, Andrew, for wiretapping, and settled the case around the same time the divorce settlement was reached.

The court heard that from 2014 Sir Frederick’s relationship with his brother, Sir David Barclay, with whom he had built a formidable business empire including luxury hotels, transport companies, newspapers and the retailer in Sports Direct line had deteriorated.

Charles Howard QC, for Sir Frederick, said having his nephews pay his legal fees does not represent a ‘healing of family relations’, and he desperately struggled to get money to settle the divorce bill, but does not have control of the funds.

He highlighted Sir Frederick’s statements to a doctor, saying ‘I’ve never had so much stress as this divorce since I was a young boy’ (when London was bombed), and adding: ‘It’s a terrible thing to say to an 87 man I was terrified I lay awake at night.

“It’s pretty scary to be told that if you don’t pay £100m you’ll go to jail.”

Mr Howard said Sir Frederick ‘is highly motivated to comply with orders because of his abject fear of prison’.

The contempt hearing before Sir Jonathan Cohen continues.