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Prince Charles letter will feature in High Court trial over UK’s most expensive property development

The brother’s development company, CPC Group, has lodged a claim for breach of contract against the Middle East company after it withdrew its plans for the £3 billion residential scheme following criticism from Prince Charles and others.

Qatari Diar, a property company backed by the emirate of Qatar, and a long time business partner of the UK developers dropped the planning application in June this year, four months after Prince Charles wrote a letter to Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, chairman of Qatari Diar and prime minister and foreign minister of Qatar.  

In it he described it as too dense and too modern for such an historic site.

Now the first arguments have been launched at a pre-trial hearing in the High Court in London.
Lord Grabiner QC, representing the Candy brothers, said the court case could be avoided if Qatari Diar honoured a clause in the contract and paid out £68.5 million in compensation.

‘Whatever happened at Qatari Diar, they know what impact that letter had on their behaviour and what they did,’ he told the court.
He added that he did not expect to call Prince Charles or Boris Johnson, London's mayor, as witnesses.
But it might be necessary to investigate what happened at Qatari Diar following the prince's letter.

Under the alleged terms of the contract, Lord Grabiner said, the application could be withdrawn only under certain conditions, including a planning refusal by Westminster city council or an indication from Mr Johnson that he would refuse the application.

Lord Grabiner pointed out that, when the application was withdrawn, Westminster city council had not met to decide on it, nor had the mayor called it in.

The issue was whether the mayor had indicated that he intended to exercise his powers. ‘We say that this never happened. This will be the key point in the trial,’ he said.

Qatari Diar will argue that it was entitled to withdraw the planning application because the Mayor for London was going to direct Westminster Council to refuse the scheme.