Published on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Former Ritz owner releases video allegedly showing nephew handling bugging device inside hotel


A video allegedly showing the son of billionaire Sir David Barclay, one of the former owners of the Ritz, handling a bugging device inside the hotel in January has been released in a court case.

It is claimed that the listening device was used to capture conversations between Sir David's twin brother Sir Frederick Barclay and a Saudi businessman interested in buying the hotel.

While Sir Frederick claims he was initially offered £1.3 billion for the prestigious hotel in London's Piccadilly by Sidra Capital, it was subsequently sold for £800 million Qatari investor in a deal arranged by Sir David's family.

Sir Frederick and his daughter Amanda are suing his nephews Alistair, Aidan and Howard, and also Aidan's son Andrew and Philip Peters - a director of a number of Barclay family companies - for invasion of privacy, breach of confidence and data protection laws.

Sir Frederick is claiming he was the subject of a 'deliberate and premeditated invasion of his privacy'.

The covert video forms key evidence in a bitter High Court battle between the 85-year-old and members of his brother's family.

Releasing the video on Monday, Sir Frederick said: "I do not want anyone else to go through the awful experience of having their personal and private conversations listened to by scores of strangers.

"It is surely in everyone's interests for the law to be changed to prevent people, outside the authorities, using sophisticated spying devices that have such an intrusive impact."

He added: "I am putting this video evidence forward as a graphic demonstration of how easy it is to spy on people in public places and to help bring about legislation to prevent such damaging intrusion."

Hefin Rees QC, representing Sir Frederick and Amanda, said the recordings 'captured over 1,000 separate conversations over a period of months', including conversations with their lawyers as well as 'bankers and business people'.

He said that a separate wifi bug was also used, supplied by private investigations firm Quest, which 'invoiced for 405 hours of their time to listen and transcribe the recordings'.

A formal defence to the High Court claim has not yet been filed and a trial is due to take place at a later date.

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