Blair 'lobbied on behalf of McKillen'

 

Former British prime minister Tony Blair has links to an Irish property developer embroiled in a battle over control of three of London’s leading hotels, a High Court judge heard today.

Mr Blair’s firm, Tony Blair Associates, played “honest broker” in a deal businessman Paddy McKillen was trying to arrange with Qatari sheikhs, Mr Justice David Richards was told.

Mr McKillen told a High Court trial in London how he felt that “Mr Blair’s office” could “smooth over issues” during discussions with members of the Qatar ruling family.

The judge heard that Mr Blair “raised the issue” during a meeting with Sheikh Hamad, Emir of Qatar.

Mr McKillen said money was “never discussed” and he agreed with a lawyer’s suggestion that “Tony Blair Associates were doing this out of the good of their heart”.

Mr McKillen, who is originally from Belfast but is based in Dublin, said he met Mr Blair, who became a Middle East peace envoy after leaving office in 2007, three times and “asked for his advice”.

He was giving evidence during a trial which started after a boardroom fight over control of a company which owns three London hotels spilled into the High Court.

Mr McKillen claimed Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, two of the UK’s best-known businessmen, had “infringed and diminished” his rights as a director.

He claimed the Barclays  “engaged in a scheme” to take control of Coroin — the company which owns Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley.

Mr McKillen took legal action claiming that he had been a victim of “unlawfulness” and “unfairly prejudicial conduct”.

The Barclay brothers deny Mr McKillen’s allegations and say he is trying to tarnish their reputations and embarrass them. They say he has “no money” and does not like the possibility of being “squeezed out of Coroin because he cannot afford to stay in”.

Mr McKillen had given the bulk of his evidence earlier in the trial, which started in March.

He had wanted to give further evidence in private - saying “third parties” he had dealt with had asked for “confidentiality” - but Mr Justice David Richards ruled that his evidence should be given in public.

The judge was told that Mr McKillen’s lawyers had suggested that individuals involved in “negotiations” were “commercially and politically sensitive”.

PA