AN INQUIRY is being called for into a “scandalous” £20m settlement in a claim over the malicious prosecution of the former administrators of Rangers in connection with the collapsed club fraud case.
Representatives of David Whitehouse and Paul Clark of Duff and Phelps confirmed an agreement was reached “extra-judicially”. The sum involved has not been disclosed but it is understood to be in the region of £20m.
Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark were subjected to criminal proceedings with others in the wake of Craig Whyte’s purchase of Rangers from Sir David Murray for a £1 and its subsequent sale before a judge dismissed the charges.
They were subjected to criminal proceedings with others in the wake of Mr Whyte’s purchase of Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1 in May 2011 and its subsequent sale before a judge dismissed the charges.
Mr Whitehouse, of Cheshire, then brought an original damages claim against the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC and the former chief constable of Police Scotland, Phil Gormley, for £9m. Mr Clark, of Surrey, sued for £5m.
Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark’s actions stemmed from their treatment by the police and prosecution authorities.
The Lord Advocate has previously admitted malicious prosecution and a breach of human rights in the investigation while the administrators sought to clear their names.
Lord Advocate to make public apology over malicious prosecutions in failed Rangers fraud case
Four years ago London-based legal firm Holman Fenwick Willan, who were acting for Duff and Phelps, was awarded £500,000 costs after police and prosecutors were found by the High Court in London to have “abused state powers” by carrying out an illegal raid and seizing privileged documents in connection with the failed Rangers fraud case.
Now Scottish Conservatives finance spokesman Murdo Fraser has said he is calling for an inquiry into what happened and is to raise it with Nicola Sturgeon.
Of the settlement, he said: “If it is true, it is an absolute scandal. It is extraordinary at a time when folk are crying out for Covid support that sums like this are being paid out because of a failure in the Crown Office.
“We have been promised a Parliamentary statement on this fiasco from the Lord Advocate but I want to know when we will get this. Two innocent men faced prison and ruin as a result of a malicious prosecution. The taxpayer is paying out vast sums in compensation. How did this happen and why? Who is to blame? We need to know.”
Scotland’s top law officer admits malicious prosecution over Rangers fraud case
In October, Judge Lord Tyre ordered the payment of £350,000 to Mr Whitehouse and £250,000 to Mr Clark as an interim payment after Crown lawyers admitted much of the prosecution against them was “malicious” and conducted without “probable cause”.
Gerry Moynihan QC, for the Lord Advocate, had previously stated that the Crown is totally liable in Mr Whitehouse’s case.
Mr Whyte ended up being the last man standing in the fraud conspiracy case and was acquitted of taking over the club by fraud at the end of a seven-week trial.
It was asserted that at no stage was there any justification for their detention, committal or prosecution and that the Crown never had sufficient evidence for any of the charges it brought.
Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark won a ruling from a specially convened bench of five judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh last year that the Lord Advocate did not have absolute immunity from a civil damages claim in such circumstances.
It emerged in August that former Rangers director Imran Ahmad was to receive a public apology from the head of Scotland’s prosecution service and significant damages after he was wrongly pursued prosecution on fraud charges.
He initially wanted £2m in damages but it is understood he is now claiming tens of millions of pounds.
Former Rangers chief executive Charles Green is also suing Police Scotland for wrongful arrest after charges against him were dropped.
Key club takeover figure David Grier, and executive with Duff & Phelps is continuing with a multi-million-pound wrongful arrest claim case against the police and prosecutors over the botched probe into the takeover the Ibrox club by Mr Whyte, making accusations of “misconduct”.