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The dispute between Telegraph owners the Barclay brothers has been widely reported. It centres on the accusation by Frederick Barclay that his nephews (the sons of his Telegraph co-owner David) made a secret recording of private discussions between Frederick and his daughter. The discussions were of a highly sensitive commercial nature. The case brought by Frederick – which is still before the courts – raises a series of allegations, including:

Barclay v Barclay: the background

Sir Frederick and his daughter Amanda (the claimants) allege a breach of confidence, misuse of private information and breach of data protection rights in relation to covert recordings of more than 1,000 conversations made in the Ritz Hotel in London from November 2019.

These recordings contained private and privileged conversations between the claimants and their solicitors, trustees, bankers and business associates about:

  • Potential acquisitions and disposals of business assets
  • The structure of the group business
  • Personal and confidential family trust business

Whether the details of these private conversations are ever released to the public will depend on the course the case takes. The defendants have admitted making the conversations and have offered to pay damages in respect of some of the claims. But whatever way this high profile case resolves itself it has already provided data protection and privacy lawyers with a stark reminder of the importance of data protection laws and the valuable protection afforded to individuals by privacy law.

How we can help

The Barclay brothers’ case demonstrates clearly the vital importance of protecting confidential and commercially sensitive information. At Nath Solicitors in London we work with a range of businesses to ensure that they implement appropriate procedures internally to minimise the possibility that confidential information enters the public sphere. Best practice may involve:

  • Carrying out stringent background checks on those employees and contractors with access to confidential information or those who have the potential to access confidential information in the course of their work.
  • Training employees on how to treat potential leaks of confidential information, what to do if there is a leak of confidential information, and to whom they should report leaks.
  • Putting in place pre-emptive measures to decrease the likelihood of confidential information being leaked, including Non-Disclosure Agreements signed by employees and associates with access to confidential information.

Finally it is crucial in this technological era that your data protection measures are always kept up to date. Carrying out regular checks, reviews and audits of the personal data you process and the protection measures you have in place will identify threats that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Data protection breaches can cause reputational damage to companies and attract stringent fines from the Information Commissioners Office (the ICO) so its important to always have a clear oversight of the data you process and control in the course of your business. You should also ensure that you observe a strict data retention policy and delete information you no longer need or are required to retain.

Contact us

At Nath Solicitors we provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of privacy law and data protection law, including advice on GDPR compliance. For further information please contact our director Shubha Nath on 0203 983 8278 or use the covid19 emergency contact form to get in touch.


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