The Barclays are harassing me, claims McKillen
Tycoon sues billionaire brothers in US as battle for control of prestigious hotels takes fresh twist
PROPERTY tycoon Paddy McKillen has said he is "horrified" at the tactics he believes are being employed against him by the billionaire Barclay brothers in the battle for control of the prestigious Claridge's, Connaught and Berkeley Hotels.
"It seems the Barclay brothers know no bounds in what they are prepared to do to take over our business. We will continue to take whatever legal action is necessary to protect our rights," Mr McKillen said when asked by the Sunday Independent why he had decided to press ahead last week with a fresh legal claim against Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay in California.
In filings lodged by his US-based lawyers last Wednesday, Mr McKillen alleges that the Barclays hired private detectives to illegally obtain confidential information including his social security number, with a view to "intimidate and harass" him as their rival for ultimate control of the world famous London hotels.
The Belfast-born businessman's latest salvo against the owners of the Ritz hotel and Telegraph newspapers stems from evidence first given in the course of a lengthy High Court case between the parties in London last summer, during which it was alleged by Mr McKillen that agents acting for the Barclay interests had attempted to obtain confidential and personal information relating to his financial affairs.
Under cross-examination during the London action, Richard Faber – a senior executive at the Barclays' Ellerman Investments – admitted that obtaining Mr McKillen's US social security number "may have been part of the litigation process" against him in the UK.
Mr Faber said, however, that the issue of the "social security number was in connection with the defendants' [Barclays'] concern that Mr McKillen was not able to pay for the legal action that he had brought and we were interested in where Mr McKillen is based."
In the course of his filing to the courts of California last Wednesday, Mr McKillen's lawyer John Hueston, said: "The conduct described not only gives rise to . . . this [civil] complaint, but also constitutes a criminal offence under . . . the Fair Credit Reporting Act."
Mr Hueston – who acted as the lead prosecutor in the Enron trial of Kenneth Lay, the energy company's former chairman – said the Barclays and their representatives acted "knowingly, willfully and wrongfully . . . in an attempt to gain a litigation and business advantage over (McKillen), and with the ultimate goal of intimidating and harassing him."
Commenting on Mr McKillen's decision to pursue the Barclay brothers through the Californian courts, their spokesman said last Friday: "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."