Rangers man’s rights ‘breached’
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