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A Tortoise File

The Break-up

The break-up

First published
Monday 2 March 2020

Last updated
Wednesday 18 November 2020

Why this story?

Is there a better example than this of the widening divide between the powerful and the powerless?

The Barclay brothers, self-made Londoners, have built a business empire which includes The Ritz hotel and The Telegraph newspaper. Through their newspaper, they have reshaped Britain – championing Brexit and pulling off the astonishing feat of seeing one of their own highly-paid columnists installed as prime minister.

Men of extraordinary influence, the powerbrokers of Brexit live offshore and appear to avoid a lot of tax.

When Tortoise launched, one of our motivations was to report on the power gap between those who wield influence and those who feel locked out. We believe in responsibility. And it is simply unsustainable to practice both press ownership and personal secrecy.

So three months ago, we asked Jane Martinson, professor of financial journalism at City University, to try to unravel the complex knot of the Barclays’ business interests, following the flow of money on and off shore, trying to understand what motivates them and reaching people who have done business with them. It is a world mostly obscured from view, but a picture emerges of an empire in crisis. David Taylor, editor