The current residents — the twin brothers David and Frederick Barclay whose property includes the Telegraph newspaper and Ritz hotel — claim that they own it outright, having bought it in 1993. The neighbouring island of Sark considers it a tenement, and the UK’s Ministry of Justice, which oversees the Channel Islands, says it is a part of Sark.
Indeed, on this last point the British government is quite unequivocal, having spelled out in its December 2012 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
The Bailiwick of Guernsey is the smaller of the two Channel Island Bailiwicks. It comprises the Island of Guernsey with the adjacent islets of Herm and Jethou, for whose administration Guernsey is responsible, and the separate jurisdictions of Alderney and Sark. The island of Brecqhou is part of Sark.
From 1929, Brecqhou was considered to be a part of La Moniere de Haut, one of the 40 parcels of land into which Sark was divided by the original 40 families that colonised the island. In that year, the Seigneur of Sark, Sybil Hathaway, sold Brecqhou to Angelo Clarke, and included with it a seat in the Chief Pleas, Sark’s governing body.
However, the Barclay brothers have since claimed that Brecqhou was never a part of Sark in the first place. Nonetheless, they have invested heavily in Sark over the years, now owning several hotels and much land on the island, and have involved themselves in its politics. Following its first democratic election in 2008, which was largely won by candidates opposed to the brothers’ financial activities on Sark, the brothers scaled back much of their activities and laid off close to 100 staff — around a sixth of the island population.