An Irish businessman has brought a damages claim against the owners of some of London's top luxury hotels as well as two senior members of the Qatari royal family over the contents of letters he alleges have wrongfully damaged his reputation.
The action by Ronnie Delany, which relates to letters allegedly published to individuals in Ireland, including businessman Paddy McKillen, and elsewhere on 13 April last, is against the Maybourne Hotels Ltd, which owns and operates The Berkeley, Claridge's and The Connaught hotels in London, and the group's Chief Executive Officer Mr Marc Socker.
The action is also against his Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of the Gulf State of Qatar, and his Excellency Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassim Bin Jabber Al Thani, businessman and Qatari politician. They jointly own the economic interest in the hotel group, it is claimed.
Mr Delany, with an address at Chatham Street, Dublin 2, claims that letters published by the hotel group and Mr Socker, in their capacity as servants and agents of the Qatari defendants, contained material that has defamed him.
He further alleges that the publication of the letters occurred as part of a conspiracy against him.
As a result, he has sued the four parties seeking damages, including exemplary and punitive damages for alleged defamation, conspiracy against him and the infliction of loss against him by unlawful means.
Mr Delany claims that as the letters were published to persons located in Ireland, he is entitled to bring the defamation proceedings in this jurisdiction.
In his action he seeks declarations from the court that the contents of letters contained statements that defamed him and injured his reputation.
He also seeks declarations to the effect that the letters form part of a conspiracy by the defendants to damage his reputation.
He further seeks an injunction preventing the defendants from republishing the letters.
The matter was briefly mentioned before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds at the High Court today.
Following submissions from Paul McGarry SC for Mr Delany, the judge granted the plaintiff permission to serve notice of the proceedings on the defendants.
Permission was required because all four reside outside of the jurisdiction.
Counsel said that it is hoped that all four defendants will be served in the UK, at the group's registered address in Knightsbridge in London.
However there remained a possibility that the two Qatari nationals may have to be served in their native country, counsel said.
Should that prove to be the case then a further application to the court may have to be made, Mr McGarry added.
The action is not the first set of proceedings involving an Irish businessman and the hotels.
For many years Mr McKillen, an associate of Mr Delany's, had been a shareholder in the group and has been a consultant to the group.
Mr McKillen had been involved in a lengthy legal battle with the Barclay Brothers over the group.
However, the billionaire brothers' interests in the group were subsequently acquired by the Qataris.