Telegraph owner Sir Frederick Barclay's divorce trial opens in secret

Telegraph owner Sir Frederick Barclay’s high-stakes divorce court trial with his wife Lady Hiroko opens in secret

  • Sir Frederick Barclay, 86, and Lady Hiroko Barclay are expected to give evidence
  • The virtual trial is taking place in private in the Family Division of the High Court
  • Sir Frederick is among the UK’s most well-known businessmen along with his late twin brother Sir David, who died in January, and both were knighted in 2000

A judge is overseeing a private divorce court hearing featuring a member of one of Britain’s most famous business families and his estranged wife.

Sir Frederick Barclay, 86, and Lady Hiroko Barclay, 78, are both expected to give evidence at the virtual trial in the Family Division of the High Court.

Mr Justice Cohen, who is based in London, began hearing arguments from lawyers on Monday. The trial is due to last several days.

The judge said reporters could attend the hearing and Sir Frederick and Lady Hiroko could be named in media reports. 

But he said no detail of evidence aired could be revealed.

At previous hearings, Lady Hiroko has been seen with noted divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton.

A divorce trial between Sir Frederick Barclay (pictured, right, with twin brother Sir David) and Lady Hiroko Barclay is underway and being overseen by a judge in private at the High Court

Known as the ‘Steel Magnolia’, Shackleton has represented everyone from Prince Andrew to rock star Liam Gallagher — and, most memorably, Sir Paul McCartney, whose second wife, Heather Mills, emptied a jug of water over her head. 

The divorce proceedings were temporarily derailed in March last year when Sir Frederick was forced to self-isolate because of the outbreak of the coronavirus. 

Sir Frederick and his twin brother Sir David were among the UK’s most high-profile businessmen.

Sir David died, aged 86, in January.

Their interests included the Telegraph Newspaper Group and The Ritz hotel in London. The family also has links to the Channel Islands and Monaco.

They bought The Ritz in 1995 and sold it last year, leading to a family row which resulted in court proceedings.

The case revolved around claims made by Sir Frederick that his nephews bugged the Ritz conservatory over fears the businessman posed ‘a significant risk of harm’ to the family business, according to High Court documents.

The nephews – all sons of his twin brother David – allegedly made over 94 hours of secret recordings as part of what his lawyers have described as ‘commercial espionage on a vast scale’.

Pictured: Lady Hiroko Barclay (left) leaves the High Court, London after an earlier hearing in Family Division of the court accompanied by celebrity divorce lawyer Fiona Shackleton (right)

But Aidan and Howard Barclay hit back at that allegation in a public statement last year, accusing Sir Frederick of ‘consistent, misleading and damaging briefing to the media against us and our family businesses’. 

The Barclay brothers, who were knighted in 2000, turned to media ownership in 1992 by buying weekly newspaper The European, which closed in 1998, while they also owned The Scotsman from 1995 to 2005.

They acquired The Daily Telegraph for £665 million more than 15 years ago.

Sir David and Sir Frederick were born into a large family in Hammersmith on October 27 1934.

Their father, also Frederick, was a travelling salesman from Kilmarnock who died when the twins were 13.

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