Page last updated at 20:37 GMT, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Barclays shut down Sark interests

Sir David (l) and Sir Frederick Barclay

The billionaire Barclay brothers are closing businesses in Sark, with the loss of about 100 jobs - a sixth of the Channel Island's population.

The jobs are in hotels, shops, estate agents, restaurants and building firms.

Sir David and Sir Frederick want radical electoral reforms on Sark and object to the hereditary posts of seigneur and seneschal remaining.

Sark's first election to choose a democratic government for nearly 450 years was held on Wednesday.

Election recount

Preliminary results released earlier by the Returning Officer on Sark showed that only five of the 28 candidates who received the most votes were pro-reform.

The people of Sark are reaping what they sowed... they only have themselves to blame
Gordon Dawes, advocate for the Barclay twins

The seigneur is the head of the government, while the seneschal is Sark's chief judge and the president of the Chief Pleas.

Advocate Gordon Dawes, who represents the Barclays, said that he was not entirely surprised that some Barclay-owned interests had been closed down on Sark.

"The people of Sark are reaping what they sowed the day before," he said.

"They only have themselves to blame. They could have co-operated with Barclays Investment but they chose to obstruct it.

'No support'

"It was clear the Barclays were clear on their commitment to the island with support - they got no support at all.

"Sark doesn't appear to want or appreciate the Barclays' investment and so it doesn't have it.

"The island cannot at the same time treat the Barclay family in the way that it has and expect them to continue investing large sums of money into its economy.

"Sark is going back to where it was before the Barclay brothers were there."

The island have a right to their democracy
Sandra Williams, electoral candidate

According to Mr Dawes, the businesses that the Barclays have shut down are operations that would normally be closed over the winter.

However, there is concern for the people who have lost their jobs as there is no welfare state in Sark.

Sandra Williams, one of the candidates in the election on Sark, told BBC News the will of the electorate needed to be respected.

"The islanders have a right to their democracy. They voted the way they voted and there's nothing we can do to change that," she said.

"The groundswell on the island last night was that the people have used their democratic right which we now have to be fully democratic."

The 73-year-old Barclay twins, who own the Telegraph Group, have other interests in the Channel Islands - in 1993 they bought the neighbouring island of Brecqhou.

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