A businessman regarded as the face of Coroin, the hotel group, regularly used hotels owned by the firm and ran up a large unpaid bill, developer Patrick McKillen told the High Court in London yesterday.
Mr McKillen, from Belfast, claim David and Frederick Barclay, owners of The Daily Telegraph, “engaged in a scheme” to take control of Coroin, which owns Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley hotels.
Mr McKillen was addressing the second day of a trial in London after claiming 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.
Mr McKillen told judge Mr Justice David Richards: “Since at least Jan 2011, the Barclay brothers and their interests have been engaged in a scheme to take over the company and, in doing so, I believe they have infringed and diminished my rights as a shareholder and director.”
Yesterday, he said shareholder Derek Quinlan regularly stayed in hotels, invited family and friends to stay and had parties.
Mr McKillen said Coroin claimed £284,913 (€341,742), but said some of the “debt due” related to cash owed on another property deal.
“He regularly stayed in the hotels and used the facilities; he also invited friends and family to stay and had parties,” said Mr McKillen.
“This was discussed amongst the shareholders Dec 2009.”
Mr McKillen said Coroin “had no choice” but to “issue a claim” since Mr Quinlan “refused to pay his outstanding hotel bills”.
He said Mr Quinlan was “told not to stay in the hotels while his bill remained outstanding”.
Mr McKillen did not say what the outcome of the “£284,913 claim” was but said Mr Quinlan had been “actively trying to exit by selling his shareholding”.
He said Mr Quinlan had “from the outset” been the “face of the company”. But, he said, Mr Quinlan had “financial problems” and in 2009 shareholders became “concerned” about his “impact on the company”. Mr Quinlan was asked to “stand down” from the board but refused.
Mr McKillen said he complained about Mr Quinlan during a conversation with Sir Frederick Barclay in 2011.
“During the conversation, I complained about Mr Quinlan’s behaviour recently in not working for the interests of the company and running up large unpaid hotel bills,” added Mr McKillen. “I may have said something about Mr Quinlan having sat around on his ‘fat ass’ running up expensive hotel bills while I did the majority of the work in the hotels.”
He said his interest in the “art industry” attracted a “lot of artists and designers”, including John Rocha and Damien Hirst.
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