MSP wants answers
Inquiry call into ‘malicious’ action over Ibrox takeover
Case revolves around the 2012 takeover of Rangers FC (pic:SNS Group)
Tory MSPs are demanding a full inquiry into the “malicious prosecutions” pursued by the Crown Office in connection with the takeover of Rangers Football Club.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has admitted acting maliciously in seeking to prosecute four men over the 2012 takeover while a fifth man is pursuing a similar claim.
It resulted in compensation payouts of taxpayers’ money that have already reached £20 million and could hit five times that sum, according to some estimates.
The Scottish Conservatives believe an inquiry must establish who pursued prosecutions in defiance of the evidence; how much the case will cost taxpayers; the Lord Advocate’s dual role as head of the COPFS prosecution service and a government minister; the role of past and present Lord Advocates and the role of Police Scotland.
David Whitehouse and Paul Clark, former insolvency experts with the firm Duff & Phelps, were called in by police in 2012 to look into alleged financial irregularities at the Ibrox club.
However, they found themselves subject to investigation and arrest and Mr Whitehouse has told of being kept in a police cell with no bed for six days and denied essential medication for a blood pressure condition.
Murdo Fraser: ‘tactics typical of Putin’s Russia’ (pic: Terry Murden)
The pair later received a reported £20m between them in an out-of-court settlement and Mr Whitehouse wants the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC to apologise in court and explain what went wrong.
In the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Conservatives finance spokesman Murdo Fraser called for an independent public inquiry.
Speaking beforehand, Mr Fraser said: “This was not just a mistake but a sinister abuse of state power that strikes at the very heart of Scotland’s criminal justice system.
“It will end up costing taxpayers tens of millions of pounds yet we have heard no explanation from either the Lord Advocate or the SNP justice secretary.
“Who could possibly imagine that Scotland would become the kind of country in which the full power of the state to prosecute people who they knew to be innocent?
“People will be angry, disgusted and deeply concerned that Sturgeon’s Scotland is capable of the type of tactics we typically see in Putin’s Russia.
“Meeting with two of these men and hearing their personal accounts was harrowing and I admire they and their lawyers’ tenacious fight for justice.
“If the Crown had got their way, they would have been jailed, financially ruined and had their reputations destroyed.
“A full public inquiry is absolutely vital to ensure the public see exactly what went wrong and why. Anything short of that would send out the message that lessons have not been learned.”