Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Barclays Top Lawyer Dragged Into Boath Battle Over SFO Interview

  • General Counsel Bob Hoyt misused criminal interview: lawyer
  • Richard Boath is suing Barclays over unfair dismissal, pay

Barclays Plc General Counsel Bob Hoyt improperly used a copy of an interview given by Richard Boath in a criminal investigation to fire the executive, Boath’s lawyer told a London employment tribunal Friday.

“Part of our case is that Mr. Hoyt, the bank’s general counsel, was given a copy of the transcript to use for the criminal process and used it for another purpose -- to fire Mr. Boath,” Jonathan Cohen said.

Richard Boath

Photographer: John Cogill/Bloomberg

Barclays and the U.K. Serious Fraud Office are fighting to have an employment suit filed by Boath against the bank heard in private because he is a suspect in an SFO investigation. Cohen’s comments were made on day five of a seven-day hearing, with the trial yet to start. The bank claims another person who hadn’t seen the 800-page transcript of the interview chose to fire Boath, Cohen said.

These are "speculative ill-guided and tendentious comments," Richard Lissack, a lawyer for Barclays said in response to Cohen, according to a quote provided by a bank spokesman. "The characterization which he gives to individual senior lawyers regarding how they use materials disclosed as part of the crime fraud exception the bank rejects utterly."

Unfair Dismissal Case

Boath, 57, is suing Barclays over pay, unfair dismissal and whistleblowing. His claims relate to what he told the SFO in a 2014 interview about his involvement in a 2008 fundraising by the bank from Qatari investors, which is the subject of a criminal investigation, and for which he claims he was fired. The SFO is seeking to keep the lawsuit private because of concerns over "witness contamination" as it nears the end of its probe. Barclays has joined forces with the SFO to keep the case out of the public domain.

Cohen told the tribunal earlier this week the SFO handed a copy of Boath’s interview transcript to Barclays as part of an application for a search warrant in the case. The bank made certain pledges about who would have access to the transcript as part of the application.

The fight over whether the case should be heard in private has derailed the underlying trial over Boath’s wrongful dismissal claims, which could now be pushed into next year.

‘Hush Up’

"The SFO is trying to hush up something which it seems to me the newspapers ought to know," Cohen said Friday when discussing the privacy issue. "What they are doing here is trying to silence Mr. Boath when a significant part of the complaint is that the only reason he finds himself in the position he is in is because the SFO gave the transcript to the bank."

The SFO opened an investigation in 2012 into 322 million pounds ($401 million) in fees the bank paid to Qatari investors for a loan as part of a wider 7 billion-pound fundraising during the 2008 financial crisis to avoid a state bailout. The probe has seen a number of senior executives interviewed by U.K. prosecutors, including former Chief Executive Officer Bob Diamond.

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