THE co-owner of The Telegraph group and former joint owner of The Scotsman Sir David Barclay has died at the age of 86, it was announced yesterday.

David Rowat Barclay and his twin brother Sir Frederick Hugh were the sons of Scottish parents, Frederick Hugh Barclay from Kilmarnock, and Beatrice Cecilia, née Taylor. The couple had eight other children, but it was the twins, born 10 minutes apart on October 27, 1934, with David being the elder, who rose to fame as the billionaire Barclay Brothers.

Frederick senior was a travelling salesman who died when the two boys were 13, and they were raised in straitened circumstances in London, though it was in Coventry while under evacuation that they witnessed first hand the German blitz on that city.

Having had a spell as painters and decorator, the twins began an estate agency in Notting Hill in 1961. It was the beginning of a long career in property development and hotel ownership, buying the Ellerman Lines shipping-to-brewing group in 1983 for £47m – they sold much of it for a reputed £240m just a few years later. They would go on to amass a huge portfolio of hotels such as the Ritz and other businesses including GUS home catalogues and Littlewoods, while moving the family home to the island of Brecqhou off Sark in the Channel Islands – they would engage in legal and constitutional battles with the Sark authorities for many years.

Best known in Scotland for buying The Scotsman for £60m in 1995, they deployed legendary Fleet Street manager Bert Hardy to run the company and brought in Andrew Neil as publisher.

Their finest personal moment in publishing was when the Queen performed the opening ceremony at The Scotsman’s new building on November 30, 1999. It was the only time that most of the staff clapped eyes on the proprietors.

After seven editors in nine years, they sold The Scotsman and its sister title in 2005 for a reported £160m to Johnston Press.

By that time they had also bought the Telegraph group, paying £665m in 2004. A long-term Brexiteer, Barclay denied editorial interference with their various newspapers and magazines.

Sir Frederick said in a statement yesterday: “We were twins from the beginning until the end. He was the right hand to my left and I was his left hand to his right. We’ll meet again.”