Rangers man’s rights ‘breached’

The Herald - - NEWS - DAVE FIN­LAY NEWS REPORTER

A FOR­MER Rangers ad­min­is­tra­tor faced se­ri­ous crim­i­nal charges for which there was “no ev­i­den­tial ba­sis”, a court heard.

A judge was told that Paul Clark’s hu­man rights were in­fringed by the ac­tions of the Crown in its at­tempt to pros­e­cute him and his fel­low ad­min­is­tra­tor at the Ibrox club.

Dou­glas Fair­ley QC, for Mr Clark, ar­gued that his claim over an al­leged breach of ar­ti­cle 8 of the Euro­pean Con­ven­tion on Hu­man Rights should be al­lowed to pro­ceed.

Mr Fair­ley told the Court of Ses­sion in Ed­in­burgh that ar­ti­cle 8, which con­fers re­spect for pri­vate and fam­ily life, ex­tended to the pro­tec­tion of rep­u­ta­tion.

Mr Clark, 53, of Sur­rey, and David White­house, 52, of Cheshire, are su­ing Scot­land’s se­nior law of­fi­cer, the Lord Ad­vo­cate, James Wolffe QC, and for­mer chief con­sta­ble Philip Gorm­ley.

Mr White­house has raised a claim for £9 mil­lion dam­ages and Mr Clark is seek­ing more than £5m. The Lord Ad­vo­cate and for­mer chief con­sta­ble are con­test­ing the claim.

The Lord Ad­vo­cate has main­tained at a de­bate in the pro­ceed­ings that there is le­gal author­ity which gives him im­mu­nity from such civil claims.

The for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tors, of Duff & Phelps, faced crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings in the wake of the takeover of Rangers by Craig Whyte and the club’s sub­se­quent ad­min­is­tra­tion, liq­ui­da­tion and sale.

The Crown later dropped sev­eral charges against the men and the re­main­der were dis­missed by High Court judge Lord Ban­natyne in Feb­ru­ary 2016. Only Mr Whyte ul­ti­mately stood trial and he was ac­quit­ted by a jury at the High Court in Glas­gow.

The ad­min­is­tra­tors raised the civil pro­ceed­ings seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion and main­tained that they were sub­jected to a wrong­ful pros­e­cu­tion and that their hu­man rights had been breached.

Mr Fair­ley told the judge, Lord Mal­colm: “At var­i­ous crit­i­cal stages in the pros­e­cu­tion process – the two pe­ti­tions and two in­dict­ments – there was in fact no ev­i­den­tial ba­sis on which charges could be made.

“The Crown never had a proper ev­i­den­tial ba­sis for li­belling a crime known to the law of Scot­land.”

He said that pro­tec­tion of rep­u­ta­tion was an as­pect of per­sonal iden­tity which was recog­nised un­der ar­ti­cle 8.

He also said that in de­tain­ing Mr Clark, charg­ing him, putting him on pe­ti­tion and in­dict­ment, and main­tain­ing the pros­e­cu­tion against him until Feb­ru­ary 2016, that right was breached. He said that the Crown Of­fice is­su­ing an “ad­mit­tedly false” press re­lease in Feb­ru­ary that year claim­ing that fur­ther charges would be brought added to the breach.

Mr Fair­ley ear­lier told the court: “The pur­suer’s case here is not sim­ply that er­rors of judg­ment were made.”

The se­nior coun­sel said it was claimed the de­ten­tion of Mr Clark in Novem­ber 2014 was at a time when there was no proper ba­sis but with the “ul­te­rior pur­pose” of try­ing to re­solve a dead­lock over ma­te­rial for which le­gal priv­i­lege had been as­serted.

Mr Fair­ley ar­gued that if that was proved then it would amount to “im­proper use of power” by the Crown.

He said it was also al­leged that the de­ci­sion to place him on pe­ti­tion for a sec­ond time was mo­ti­vated by a de­sire on the part of the Crown “to buy it­self more time”.

The hear­ing con­tin­ues.

Crown had no proper ev­i­den­tial ba­sis for li­belling a crime

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