Hollinger judge 'grossly unfair' says Barclay

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The Independent Online

Sir David Barclay lashed out last night in a highly personal attack on the American judge who blocked his recent attempt to take control of The Daily Telegraph and its sister Sunday title.

The normally reclusive and publicity shy businessman accused Judge Leo Strine, who presided over the dramatic court case in Delaware last month, of being "grossly unfair", and making allegations against him and his brother, Sir Frederick Barclay, that were in breach not just of "basic principles of natural justice" but also "basic legal principles".

A statement also said that Sir David did not falsely "claim to be too ill to be disposed". The statement said: "Judge Strine cast doubt unfairly and wrongly that Sir David Barclay had 'claimed to be too ill to be disposed'. This is particularly regrettable as the medical evidence before the court of an eminent professor of clinical neurology and an eminent surgeon and other evidence about Sir David Barclay's illness over many years was not challenged at trial by the plaintiff, Hollinger International."

Sir David's outburst adds a new and unexpected dimension to the already highly charged atmosphere surrounding the sale of the Telegraph titles.

The three-page statement refuted what Sir David called "unwarranted and uncalled for allegations" made by Judge Strine when handing down his findings. The case was brought by Hollinger International to stop Conrad Black's £250m sale of Hollinger Inc, Lord Black's holding company that controls 73 per cent of the votes in Hollinger International, the owner of The Telegraph.

The statement said the brothers did not collude with Lord Black behind HI's back. "From the outset, Sir David made it clear, to both Lord Black and Lazard [Hollinger International's advisers] that he wished to acquire the Telegraph." Sir David said the Barclays did not interfere with Hollinger International's strategic process, aimed at finding a buyer for The Telegraph, which Judge Strine said they "feared" and had tried to circumvent by formulating bylaws to give them a veto over asset sales. Sir David also refuted Judge Strine's claim that he and his brother "chose a pragmatic course of action that they knew was less than fully candid" and "remained silent while Lord Black misled the International Board".