Spectator apologises to Irish businessman over wrong suggestion he was a 'front man' for Qataris

An Irish businessman has accepted an apology from the Spectator over a story that wrongly suggested he was a front man for Qataris.

The claims about Paddy McKillen were made in an article relating to Claridge's Hotel in London in a Taki column. 

The magazine's solicitor, Simon McAleese, told Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, President of the High Court in Dublin: "On March 29, 2014, in the print and online editions of The Spectator magazine, the defendant published an article in Taki's column entitled 'It might be time to avoid Claridge's'.

"This article referred to an 'Irish front man' for the Qataris, which could have been taken as a reference to Irish businessman Paddy McKillen."

McAleese went on: "The defendant's column had incorrectly assumed that Mr McKillen's investment in Claridge's was being financed by Qatari funding.

"It accepts that this was incorrect and that it was therefore wrong to describe Mr McKillen as a front man for the Qataris.

"It withdraws any corresponding criticism of Mr McKillen and apologises to him for its error."

After the hearing – which McKillen did not attend – his solicitor, Paul Tweed, said he had been "totally vindicated" by this comprehensive and categoric retraction and apology".

His client, he added, "will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action to protect his business from any future attempts to undermine his reputation".

According to The Guardian, McKillen has for more than two years been involved in a legal dispute with Sirs David and Frederick Barclay, who own the Spectator, over the ownership of the Maybourne Hotel Group, which Claridge's and other hotels are a part of.

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