Barclays’ legal team was forced to apologise to Amanda Staveley on Friday after comments by one of them accusing the financier of “obviously lying” were accidentally broadcast at the end of her first day of testimony in a High Court trial.
Ms Staveley began testifying on Thursday as part of a lawsuit she has brought against Barclays, accusing the bank of alleged deceit over a cash call the UK lender took from Qatar at the height of the 2008 financial crisis.
PCP, Ms Staveley’s investment firm, led a parallel investment in Barclays by Abu Dhabi in October 2008, but claims it would not have done so had it known that Qatar was securing a different deal. Barclays denies wrongdoing.
The comments from the member of the legal team defending Barclays were picked up after Ms Staveley had finished her first day of testimony at the High Court, where the trial is being streamed via a live feed to the press and public because the pandemic has limited attendance in the courtroom.
Although the hearing had ended for the day, the live audio feed continued and aired comments made on an internal Zoom call held by lawyers for Barclays. The team member was heard describing Ms Staveley as “obviously lying” and adding that she was “crashing and burning” during her evidence.
On Friday Mr Justice Waksman said he had been notified by members of the public about the comments. He read out a letter of apology from Simmons & Simmons, the firm representing Barclays in the case. The firm said it had investigated after the individual “immediately admitted” what had happened.
The letter from Colin Passmore, senior partner at Simmons & Simmons, said the comment had been made in a private Zoom meeting which was somehow broadcast into the courtroom. He apologised unreservedly to Ms Staveley and said it was “very regrettable and should not have happened”.
The judge reassured Ms Staveley that the comments “have no impact on my task of the assessment of your evidence”. He also warned members of the public viewing the trial that it was a criminal offence to tweet screenshots of the virtual court hearing.
In a separate statement on Friday, Simmons & Simmons said: “Comments were made by a member of the Simmons legal team on a private Zoom call which was overheard in the courtroom after the day’s session had adjourned. We apologise to Ms Staveley and to the court.”
As the trial resumed on Friday, Ms Staveley was questioned about how much PCP had made helping to broker the sale of Manchester City to Abu Dhabi investors in 2008 to which she replied: “We netted £5m in total.”
She was also cross examined about a letter sent by the Financial Services Authority in January 2009 asking questions about PCP’s role. “They wanted to know what we were doing,” she said. The trial continues.
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