A JUDGE has ruled that Scotland’s top law officer had no “probable cause” to prosecute a key figure in Craig Whyte’s takeover of Rangers in a doomed club fraud probe.
It is a major blow for the Crown Office coming after David Grier, an executive with Duff & Phelps and a negotiator in the Craig Whyte’s takeover more than doubled his claim against the Lord Advocate over the failed club fraud case.
Mr Grier is seeking £5m instead of £2m from the Lord Advocate. He is also making a claim against Police Scotland for £9m.
Mr Grier was subjected to criminal proceedings with others in the wake of Craig Whyte’s purchase of Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1 in May 2011 and its subsequent sale before a judge dismissed the charges.
Lord Advocate accused of ‘abuse of process’ in £14m ‘wrongful arrest’ claim by key Rangers takeover figure
Mr Grier and others had criminal cases against them dropped leaving Mr Whyte last man standing in a fraud conspiracy trial. Mr Whyte was acquitted three years ago at the end of a seven-week trial.
Lord Tyre has now ruled that prosecutors had no legal basis to bring David Grier to court following an investigation into business activities at the club.
It means his multi-million compensation bid can continue.
Lord Tyre says it was acknowledged by those acting for Mr Grier that a finding of absence of reasonable and probable cause does not necessarily imply that the prosecution was malicious.
The judge said it was accepted that Mr Grier will now require to prove malice before his claim for damages can succeed.
The judge said: “It raised no difficult or complex point of law. The definition of fraud is clear and well settled: what is required is a false pretence, made dishonestly, in order to bring about a definite practical result.
“According to the judgment of the court.. there was no apparent connection between the pretence said to have been made by or in the presence of [Mr Grier] and the alleged practical effect on the owners of the club.
“The necessary link between false pretence and result was accordingly missing from the charge.
“It appears to me to follow from the decision of the court that, on an objective assessment, there was no ‘case fit to be put into court’.
“Nothing further is relied upon in the defences, and I accordingly hold that there is no relevant defence pled to [Mr Grier’s] case that the prosecution was initiated and continued in the absence of reasonable and probable cause.”
The Lord Advocate had been accused of an “abuse of process” over a defence of the claim which Mr Grier’s legal representatives said lacked “objective, reasonable and probable cause”.
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The claim, denied by the Lord Advocate, emerged as Mr Grier continued a multi-million-pound wrongful arrest case in connection with the botched probe into the takeover of the Ibrox club by Mr Whyte.
Officers suspected Mr Grier, of London, had broken the law during the sale of the Ibrox side and the businessman was charged with fraud, conspiracy and a charge under the Proceeds of Crime Act – before the case was dropped.
Mr Grier has always said he was unaware that London finance firm Ticketus funded Mr Whyte’s controversial purchase of the club by buying up rights to future season tickets.
Mr Grier, 58, has also demanded a public apology from officials after the Lord Advocate admitted the “malicious prosecution” of Duff and Phelps colleague and former Rangers administrators David Whitehouse and Paul Clark who have agreed a compensation settlement with Police Scotland estimated to be in the region of £25m.
Mr Whitehouse, of Cheshire, brought a 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. In August the total claim was said to have gone up to £21m.
Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark’s actions stemmed from their alleged 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.
Former Rangers executive Charles Green was also told he was able to receive damages after the Crown admitted it had conducted a “malicious” prosecution against him.
The case continues.