Saturday 27 December 2014

McKillen takes action against the Barclay brothers in a US court

Developer accuses rivals in hotels battle of breaking law by violating his privacy

Shane Hickey London

Published 29/06/2013 | 05:00

Paddy McKillen
Paddy McKillen

PROPERTY developer Paddy McKillen's ongoing battle with the Barclay brothers has accelerated further after accusations that the billionaire twins violated US law.

Mr McKillen (pictured), who is in the middle of a lengthy struggle with the owners of the Telegraph Group for the control of three high-profile London hotels, this week lodged papers with the Californian courts, alleging that they had unlawfully obtained documents detailing his financial affairs.

This is the latest development in the rancorous battle for the control of Coroin, the €1.2bn company which owns Claridge's, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels, that is still going through the courts.

On Wednesday, papers were lodged in the district court in California, alleging that David and Frederick Barclay, one of their companies, two of their lieutenants and a number of unnamed people had broken both state and federal law by violating credit laws and invading Mr McKillen's privacy.

The Belfast-born businessman says the Barclay side used "a secretive investigative process" to garner his social security number "for no legitimate purpose" to intimidate and harass and pursue their interests in the UK legal case.

During the extensive hearings into the ownership of the hotels last year, a key Barclay lieutenant, Richard Faber, told the High Court in London that the brothers had tried to secure Mr McKillen's social security number as part of the legal action.

Mr McKillen also claims that the Barclay side unlawfully procured a credit report on him – which included details of his debts, creditors, investments, property portfolio and creditworthiness – to gain advantage.

The social security and tax numbers needed to access the credit history were procured by a company called Kroll Factual Data, which describes itself as an "intelligence and information-management company".

Mr McKillen reacted with outrage when he was in the stand in the High Court last year over the issue of his social security number being tracked.

He claims that the Barclay side obtained the credit report "under false pretences" and "for the purposes of exerting litigation and business pressure".

Mr McKillen has secured the high-profile lawyer John Heuston to lead the latest legal battle. Mr Heuston was the lead prosecutor in the Enron trial of Kenneth Lay, the energy firm's former chairman.

A spokesman for the Barclay brothers said: "This is the first we have heard of this action. If such a suit has been filed, it would appear to be a claim with no foundation that we shall deal with, as we have with Mr McKillen's previous claims."

Both sides are currently awaiting a ruling from the Court of Appeal on an appeal by Mr McKillen over a verdict from last year which went against him.

The lengthy High Court case surrounded claims that the Barclay brothers and financier Derek Quinlan had breached clauses in a shareholders' agreement in their bid to control the hotels.

Irish Independent

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