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Paddy McKillen employee’s defamation case dismissed

Project manager Frank Sinton made allegations against Qatar-owned Maybourne Hotels and four directors

Project manager Frank Sinton, who has been involved in a number of Maybourne Hotels’ luxury hotel projects, sued the group and four people who are directors of the company.

Mr Sinton, represented by the firm of prominent Northern Irish lawyer Paul Tweed, made allegations of defamation, malicious falsehood and breach of data protection law against the defendants.

The lawsuit followed a decision by Maybourne Hotels’ board in early 2022 to withdraw Mr Sinton’s access rights to the company’s offices and three of the group’s sites, including properties developed in London and Nice.

This decision came after allegations were made against Mr Sinton, fellow project manager Ronnie Delaney and Mr McKillen that they had behaved inappropriately towards staff at the Nice site and a site in London.

Maybourne’s board sent an email to Mr McKillen and his secretary, as well as to Liam Cunningham, a director of a company owned by Mr McKillen called Hume Street Management Consultants (HSMC). HSMC led construction work at the relevant sites and also managed Claridge’s, Connaught and another property in Maybourne, Berkeley.

Mr McKillen sold his 36 per cent stake in Maybourne Hotels in 2015 to the family office of His Highness Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the former Emir of Qatar. Mr McKillen was removed from the board of Maybourne Hotels in 2022 and his relationship with the Qatari owners deteriorated as a result.

Several other people were also informed that Mr Sinton’s access had been blocked, while he claimed that dozens of construction workers on the hotel site in Nice – including many Brits – had also been informed of his access block.

Mr Sinton complained that a note to a director of the French company that owns the hotel site in Nice said: “Frank Sinton is guilty of particularly serious, reprehensible conduct given the seriousness of his conduct and in order to protect everyone present made.” At the Maybourne Riviera site, his access to the site should be blocked.”

He also complained about another message to an employee of a company linked to Maybourne Hotels which said: “There is an investigation into Frank Sinton’s behavior which is far more serious than people can imagine and the possibility exists.” that the authorities will be informed.” ”

However, the defendants moved for summary judgment in this case. They argued that, in relation to his defamation claim, Mr Sinton had no real prospect of proving that any of the letters in question had caused or threatened to cause serious damage to his reputation.

Judge Martin Chamberlain granted summary judgment to the defendants on the defamation and malicious false allegations made by Mr Sinton. He invited contributions to resolve the data protection claim he raised.

He also noted that he could not draw a “firm conclusion” from the evidence that Mr. Sinton’s lawsuit was funded by Mr. McKillen, “let alone that it was based on an improper motive on the part of Mr. McKillen or Mr. Sinton.”

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