The co-owner of Brecqhou has avoided being jailed after the High Court ruled late yesterday that he was not in contempt of court over an unpaid divorce settlement.
Sir Frederick’s ex-wife, Lady Hiroko Barclay, failed to prove that the 87-year-old businessman had access to a complex web of offshore trusts through which he could obtain the funds to pay a £100m divorce bill.
But Judge Sir Jonathan Cohen ruled that Sir Frederick had breached a court order to pay Lady Barclay £60,000 in monthly maintenance as well as her legal fees of £185,000.
The consequences of Sir Frederick’s breaches will be considered at another court hearing on 11 August.
Pictured: The High Court rejected Lady Barclay's claim that Sir Frederick Barclay was in contempt of court for failing to pay her two instalments, each of £50m. (David Castor)
Lady Barclay (79) claimed that Sir Frederick, her husband of 34 years, had the means to pay his divorce bill but had not paid a penny of it and was aiming to “string things out” until “one or other of us dies”.
Sir Frederick disputed this. He claimed that he does not have access to the funds held in trusts. His lawyers told the Court that “all steps” had already been taken to try to raise the money owed.
The island of Brecqhou (pictured top) came up earlier in the week’s proceedings, which were held in the Family Division of the High Court. Sir Frederick bought the 32-hectare island for £3.5m in 1993 with his twin brother, Sir David, who died last year.
The Judge said that “some of the liquidity problems in this case would be resolved” if Brecqhou was sold.
However, Sir Frederick’s lawyers told the Court that other family members with an interest in the island are unwilling to sell.
Pictures: Sir Frederick (left) and Sir David Barclay in happier times before they fell out in the mid-2010s. (James Fraser/Rex Features)
The Court heard how relations between the brothers fell apart in 2014. Lady Barclay recalled how animosity over the family empire descended into the pair "punching each other" during a brawl on their luxury yacht.
Lady Barclay claimed that Sir Frederick was effectively banned from visiting Brecqhou, where Sir David is now understood to be buried.
In any case, Sir Frederick's stake is apparently worthless due to a long-term lease, according to letters from Sir David to his identical twin read in the Court.
According to the Barclays' official history, the windswept island was originally an "eyesore". Just three years later, the existing manor house had been razed and mock-gothic structure Fort Brecqhou – which eventually became known simply as 'The Castle' – was erected.
Sir Frederick's lawyers said that an "awful lot of money" had been invested in the castle, where Sir Frederick's wife, Lady Reyna, is still said to live.
He explained that Lady Reyna and her family "are not in a position to acquire the 50% share" - nor would she be willing to consider a sale.
Pictured: The Barclay brothers bought The Ritz for £80m in 1995. It was sold to a Qatari investor in 2020.
In May last year, Justice Cohen was highly critical of Sir Frederick when he sold his yacht for an estimated £125m but failed to use the proceeds to pay his wife, calling it "reprehensible".
Sir Frederick's lawyers previously said that he was relying on his nephews to fund the divorce battle due to his lack of funds. In March, he was evicted from a £25m luxury flat in London, which had its own ballroom.
The twins were estimated to be worth £7billion prior to Sir David's death. Their business empire, built from nothing, included the Telegraph media group and the Ritz Hotel.
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