David Barclay, one of the twin brothers who own the Telegraph newspapers and sold the London’s Ritz hotel in 2020, has died aged 86 after a short illness.
The Barclay brothers rose from humble beginnings in West London to become billionaires with interests in property, shipping, retail and media. Their other businesses include the Shop Direct home shopping operation and Yodel, a delivery and logistics business.
The rightwing brothers’ influence came mainly from their ownership of the Telegraph papers and the Spectator, which they bought for £665m in 2004, defeating the owners of the Daily Mail. The Telegraph said they had wanted to own the papers, read by many Conservative voters and MPs, since the 1980s.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson edited the Spectator for the first year of the Barclays’ ownership and was a high-earning and often controversial columnist for the Daily Telegraph until he became a cabinet minister in 2016. Under the brothers’ ownership the papers supported Brexit and the Conservatives’ austerity measures in government.
After working closely for most of their career the pair fell out in recent years when Frederick Barclay and his daughter Amanda sued a group of his brother’s direct relatives over alleged bugging of his private conversations at the Ritz. They are reported to have barely spoken for many years.
The Barclay brothers, knighted in 2000 for supporting medical research, have been accused of being tax exiles while exerting influence on UK public life. They have properties in Monte Carlo and own the island of Brecqhou in the Channel Islands.