June 23, 2005
Trial date set in Barclays v Times
French Court to hear Telegraph owners' criminal libel action
At a procedural hearing, Paris’s civil court set a date next February for the full hearing of Sir Frederick and Sir David Barclays’ libel trial against The Times.
The brothers, who own the Telegraph, are suing The Times, its editor Robert Thomson, and the media editor, Dan Sabbagh, over an article published last November about their business dealings. The Times sells around 3,500 copies daily in France and over 600,000 copies daily in the UK.
Responding to criticism over the Barclays’ decision to sue in France, where defamation is a criminal offence which attracts a fine of up to 12,196 euros, a spokesperson for the brothers stated that they had chosen to take their case to the French courts because they reside in Monte Carlo, which is under French legal jurisdiction, and because Sir David’s illness would prevent him from attending a lengthy court hearing.
Neither the Barclay brothers nor Mr Thomson nor Sabbagh were in Court for the procedural hearing. At the hearing, the Barclays were given a deadline of 22 September to pay a 2,000 euros deposit to continue the case.
Mr Thomson issued a statement recently stating that he had ‘full faith’ in the French legal system and judiciary and looked forward to ’emphasising the importance of press freedom in Europe’.