An Irish property developer has lost a High Court battle with two of Britain’s best -known businessmen.
Patrick McKillen, who comes from Belfast but is based in Dublin, was fighting David Barclay and his twin Frederick over control of a £1bn (€1.3bn) company that owns three of London’s most famous hotels.
A judge in London yesterday ruled against Mr McKillen, following a trial spanning more than two months.
All three men were investors in Coroin, which owns and manages Claridge’s, the Connaught, and the Berkeley hotels.
Mr McKillen claimed that “company affairs” were conducted in a “manner unfairly prejudicial to his interests”.
The Barclay brothers, owners of The Daily Telegraph, disputed Mr McKillen’s claims and said his allegations were designed to “tarnish” their reputat-ions and “embarrass” them.
In a written ruling, Mr Justice David Richards said two sets of proceedings brought by Mr McKillen “fail and will be dismissed”.
The Barclays welcomed the ruling, described as a “comprehensive victory” for them. Richard Faber, speaking on behalf of the Barclay interests, said it was an “unnecessary and distracting dispute”.
“After 30 days in court the judge has looked in detail at every aspect of Mr McKillen’s case and has found it to be without any merit.
“It should never have been necessary for the Barclay interests to defend these baseless proceedings, which we always believed were an attempt by Mr McKillen to tarnish the Barclay interests’ reputation in the misconceived hope that they would then sell out to him.
“The High Court has now confirmed what we always knew to be the case: That the Barclay family and its interests have always behaved entirely lawfully and properly in their business dealings.”
A statement issued later on behalf of Mr McKillen said he “firmly believes in his claim and is obviously considering an appeal”.
In a 158-page judgment, Mr Justice Richards said: “Mr McKillen is the last man standing of a consortium of investors who purchased the hotels in 2004.
“He has a 36.2% shareholding in Coroin Limited [the company] which heads the group of companies owning the hotels.”
The judge said: “The Barclay brothers have made no secret of their aim to obtain control of the company.
“There is nothing wrong in this aim, provided that unlawful means or means which are unfairly prejudicial to the interests of other shareholders are not used to achieve it.”
The judge announced that both sets of proceedings failed. There was “no foundation”, he said, for the damages claim.
In his conclusions he said that Mr McKillen “cannot establish any conduct of the affairs of the company which has been unfairly prejudicial to him”.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved