McKillen fit to be tied after Ritz run-in with Sir Frederick
The twins, Sir Frederick and Sir David, have for years divided their time between homes on the island of Brecqhou, one of the Channel Islands located just west of Sark, and Monaco.
Sir David pleaded illness as his reason for not turning up at the McKillen trial, while his brother insisted he had “such a tiny involvement” that he had no case to answer.
In the Barclays’ eyes, McKillen has dragged them into the case in a bid to force them to concede to his demands to control the luxury Claridges, Berkeley and Connaught hotels.
The state of relations between the Barclays and McKillen is illustrated by the outcome of a meeting between the Belfast-born property developer and Sir Frederick at London’s Ritz Hotel in late 2010.
In McKillen’s eyes, Sir Frederick treated him disrespectfully, archly telling him he should not have been allowed in because he was not wearing the required tie.
In his witness statement, which the Barclays did not want to release, Sir Frederick gave his account, saying he was “at the door of the hotel” to greet McKillen. “He came up, shook my hand and introduced himself (which was necessary, since I did not know what he looked like). He was not wearing a jacket and tie (and his shirt was hanging out).
“The Ritz has a jacket-and-tie-only policy for men. I made a joke about it being fortunate that I was there to meet him, because otherwise he would not have got past security.
“Mr McKillen took umbrage, and the encounter turned distinctly frosty. I showed him briefly round the ground floor and (a) new extension.
“I think the whole thing lasted only 10 or 15 minutes. Given the atmosphere, I did not invite him to have a coffee afterwards (as I normally would have done).”
He denied McKillen’s claims that he told him he intended to buy all of the shares of Coroin, the holding company set up by financier Derek Quinlan when the hotels came into Irish hands in 2004.
Sir Frederick went to some lengths to emphasise that both he and his brother now take a back-seat role in their companies’ operations, leaving the details to executives.
“I am now into my late seventies. I am effectively retired. I keep no work diary, have no business secretary and received or reviewed little or no documentation relating to (the hotels),” he said.
In his account, McKillen pointed out the Barclays were keen to make him aware that they had received honours from the Vatican for their charitable work.
In his, Sir Frederick emphasised that such good works had been recognised in, “amongst other things, the knighthoods bestowed on us by Her Majesty the Queen in 2000”.
“We are not involved day-to-day, or in the minutiae of the business. We do not see or review legal/transactional documentation (and never did, if we could help it, employing lawyers to do so).
“However, given our position and responsibilities, we have very many legal papers to sign, including in relation to the business of non-UK holding companies within the group.
“I generally sign such documentation on the basis that I would not have been asked to sign unless it was appropriate, and I do so in reliance on trusted advisers who have produced the documents,” Sir Frederick said.
The case in the High Court’s Rolls Building before Mr Justice David Richards is nearing its end. Its duration has become the subject of jocular remarks in other courts in the building.