The Prime Minister of Britain, Boris Johnson has led tributes to British billionaire and the co-owner of The Daily Telegraph, Sir David Barclay, who has died at the age of 86 after a short illness.
Sir David, with his identical twin Sir Frederick, took ownership of the Telegraph Media Group in 2004 during a business career that took in hotels, shipping and retail.
It gained them a fortune estimated at £7bn, according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.
The Daily Telegraph reported his death overnight, though it said that he died on Sunday, January 10.
Mr Johnson, whose earlier work included a stint as a reporter at the paper, wrote on Twitter, “Farewell with respect and admiration to Sir David Barclay who rescued a great newspaper, created many thousands of jobs across the UK and who believed passionately in the independence of this country and what it could achieve.”
The paper said the publicity-shy Barclay brothers “operated as one” throughout their business lives.
It quoted a colleague as saying Sir David was distinct from Sir Frederick in that he was “more attuned to taking a risk, and Frederick was generally willing to have a look but would never bet the farm”.
The Barclay brothers entered the media industry in 1992 when they bought The European, a weekly newspaper launched two years earlier by the media magnate Robert Maxwell.
They later bought The Scotsman in 1995 and Sunday Business in 1997 before finally realising their ambition of owning Conservative bastion The Daily Telegraph in 2004.
They acquired the Daily Telegraph for £665m following an auction process after a US court blocked a private deal in 2003 with its then Canadian owner, Conrad Black’s Hollinger Group.
The brothers, long advocates of small government and low taxes, were strong supporters of former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, putting her up in their plush Ritz hotel in London during her final days.
They were born into a large working-class Scottish family in London in 1934 and left school at 14 to pursue their joint business ambitions, making their names initially in the property market.
“They are very effective stealth buyers,” one financier told the Telegraph. “They come out of nowhere and move quickly.”
The brothers were also knighted in 2000, kneeling side by side before Queen Elizabeth II in the first double knighthood ceremony in the modern era.
Based on the Channel Island of Sark, the duo became embroiled in a rare public row in 2020 over the sale of The Ritz to a brother-in-law of the ruler of Qatar, which ended up in court.
The family dispute over the sale of The Ritz made headlines when footage was released by Frederick’s lawyers allegedly showing one of David’s sons, Alistair Barclay, installing a listening device in a meeting area of the Ritz while Frederick and his daughter Amanda were meeting to discuss the sale of the hotel.
David Barclay, was married twice and leaves behind four sons.