Friday 19 January 2018

McKillen facing questions on link to Blair

Paddy McKillen
Paddy McKillen

Shane Hickey in London

DEVELOPER Paddy McKillen is to be questioned on his long-standing relationship with a company set up by the former British prime minister Tony Blair as part of his legal action against the Barclay brothers.

Legal representatives for the brothers yesterday said they had received "unsatisfactory" information about the nature of the relationship between the Belfast-born businessman and the consultancy firm set up by Mr Blair.

Tony Blair Associates is a company which provides advice on political and economic matters.

The link came to light last week during discussions over the disclosure of documents in the High Court in London where Mr McKillen is suing the Barclays over their attempts to take over Coroin, the company that runs Claridges, the Connaught and the Berkeley.

The Irish businessman claims he should have been offered the shares of financier Derek Quinlan -- sold by NAMA to the brothers -- because of a clause in the shareholders' agreement of the firm.

Yesterday, Kenneth Maclean QC, counsel for a number of Barclay companies, said there had been a "long-standing relationship" between Mr McKillen and the Blair body but that he had received an unsatisfactory response from legal representatives as to the nature of the relationship.

"I propose taking up the matter next week when Mr McKillen is in the stand," he said.

Mr McKillen is due to return to the witness box when it is expected that a number of issues surrounding his personal finances will be raised.

Contentious

Mr McKillen's case, which is entering its final stages, surrounds his claim that Mr Quinlan's 35pc stake should have been offered to him.

The court has heard that the Barclay brothers have made a number of payments to Mr Quinlan, said to be friends helping each other out, but these had nothing to do with the sale of the shares, the financier says.

Yesterday Gerry Murphy, a right-hand man of Mr Quinlan, said it was possible that he had misled Mr McKillen in relation to a proposed sale of shares to a Qatari syndicate by saying Mr Quinlan was in favour of it.

Mr Murphy said he was on a "solo run" to try and bring the men together and that he had overstated his position.

He denied that the payments from the Barclays to Mr Quinlan had prompted favourable treatment and said he was "very unhappy" when texts emerged saying the brothers were now in control of the group.

When this speculation entered the UK media he made a statement to the 'Irish Times', saying there was no agreement to sell the shares.

As relations grew worse within Coroin, Mr Murphy said contentious board meetings became unattractive to Mr Quinlan, who dislikes conflict.

It emerged last week that when Mr Quinlan was engaged in a potential sale of the hotels to the Oberoi group -- an Indian company -- he was seeking a fee of £50m (€61m) for the deal.

Mr Murphy told the court yesterday that he would have expected some £5m (€6.1m) of that fee if the deal had gone through.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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