June 19, 2024

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MPs urge use of UK national security law to vet Barclay family’s Telegraph deal

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Conservative MPs have called for the government to use the UK’s national security laws to investigate the attempt by the Barclay family to take back control of the Telegraph newspaper group using funding from Abu Dhabi.

MPs, including Edward Leigh, John Hayes and Baroness Margaret Eaton, have written to deputy prime minister Oliver Dowden, business secretary Kemi Badenoch and culture secretary Lucy Frazer questioning the use of overseas sovereign wealth to buy the UK national newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph is traditionally the newspaper most aligned to the Conservative party — Boris Johnson wrote a weekly column for the broadsheet before he became prime minister — which has caused some concern over its future ownership among the party’s MPs.

The media group was put into receivership by Lloyds Banking Group earlier this year owing to unpaid debts and has since been put up for sale by the bank in an auction.

However, the Barclay family has in recent days offered to repay all of the £1.1bn in outstanding debt. This would be funded by debt provided by an Abu Dhabi royal family member and RedBird IMI, an investment vehicle headed by former CNN boss Jeff Zucker that is also part-backed by Abu Dhabi-based International Media Investments.

The MPs said in the letter that they were concerned that investment vehicles with links to the Emirati royal family “may soon gain control of or material influence over two of the most important media publications in Great Britain, The Telegraph and The Spectator”.

They argue that there “is a strong case for close scrutiny by the government under both the Enterprise Act 2002 and the National Security & Investment Act 2021” — especially if the offer involved taking the publications as security for the loan, “an amount which, by any sensible measure, the revenue of the publications will not be able…

2023-11-19 11:15:44

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