Did Craig Whyte and Rangers Mislead the Court of Session?

 

Earlier this year, the respected law firm Levy & McRae, sued Rangers for payment of a £35,000 bill for representing the club in UEFA disciplinary hearings.

The case called in court for a couple of procedural hearings before it was finally resolved and the bill paid.

At the time it was reported that “Judge Lord Hodge was told that Rangers’ new owner, Craig Whyte, wanted to check the details as the claim dated back to when Sir David Murray controlled the club.” – BBC Website 9th September 2011

A Rangers spokesman is quoted in the same piece as saying “”The remarks in the Court of Session today made by McRae & Levy with regard to their concerns about the club’s solvency are unfounded and unwarranted and these are nothing more than scaremongering tactics. The club is extremely disappointed and angry that this action was taken when there were categorical assurances from the club’s lawyers that the money was on its way and it is regrettable that those assurances were not deemed sufficient.”

It is quite in order for a party presented with a bill to delay payment where they have any doubts about it, with the risk of having to pay extra costs, as indeed Rangers did in this case. It is however inappropriate at best to refuse to pay because the other party has annoyed you, and much worse if you instruct your lawyers to defend the case on the ground that you are “clarifying” matters when in fact you are doing so for no legal reason whatever.

If a client tells his lawyers to take action on one basis, but is not being truthful in the instructions he is giving, then this can create a very difficult position for the solicitors and counsel involved, especially as Counsel has to appear in court to put forward the client’s position.

In an extraordinary interview printed in the Scotsman today Tom English spoke to Craig Whyte. There is much to look at in the article, but there is one piece in particular to focus on now.

“Tom English – You seem to be constantly fighting people. The tax man, Bain, McIntyre, the BBC, various solicitors firms, all sorts of people. Levy & McRae took action over an unpaid bill of £35,000. Why is there so much hassle?

Craig Whyte – Levy & McRae acted for Rangers previously and under Law Society rules they shouldn’t be acting against their client so when they represented Bain we complained about them to the Law Society and to be fair we were a bit bloody-minded when we said we weren’t going to pay them because they started acting for Bain against us. That was the reason we didn’t pay them. They took us to court and with hindsight it would have been easier just to pay them.”

I have highlighted the relevant words – Mr Whyte is stating, in public, that the reason for defending the case was not that stated by Rangers’ counsel to the court, but an entirely different one – indeed a “bloody-minded” one! The court was given no indication that the “defence” to the action was to do with any conflict issue.

I have written about this case, and the conflict of interest point before here. I suspect that Levy & McRae might want to politely have Mr Whyte reminded that they took extensive advice prior to acting for Mr Bain, and that Mr Withey of Collyer Bristow, who is on the Board of the company controlling Rangers, failed, allegedly, to advise the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission that Levy & McRae had explained this in detail to him when he lodged his complaint.

Mr Whyte, potentially, will stand up in the Court of Session to give evidence next July in the Bain case. He may well stand up in court in the Court of Session or elsewhere in connection with his threat to sue the BBC. He may be require to attend court as a witness in other cases.

I suspect that Counsel cross examining him in any case will be referring to what I have mentioned above as a way of questioning Mr Whyte’s credibility as a witness.

And as Lord Hodge, the Commercial Judge, is likely to have an involvement in further cases involving Rangers, whilst His Lordship will not of course be affected by newspaper stories, it might lead him to view with an added pinch of salt submissions being made to him.

I am sure however that this is all in fact a misunderstanding, and that Counsel for Rangers got his instructions wrong in some way when appearing in September, or else Mr Whyte has in some way been misquoted.

Surely a prominent businessman would not have admitted in an interview to having effectively misled a court.

 

 

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28 Comments

Filed under Bain v Rangers, Civil Law, Courts, Football, Rangers

28 responses to “Did Craig Whyte and Rangers Mislead the Court of Session?

  1. Odear

    And he thinks he was being so clever by claiming not to have watched the documentary! That allowed him to say “if they said what I think they might have said then thry are wrong” rather than answering simple questions. Also love the other tactic “You are said to have murdered someone” “I’m not going to comment on specific allegations”

    • Quite how he can instruct his solicitors to sue when he has not seen what is alleged to have defamed him too…

      He is a remarkable man!

      • Frankie

        He stated that he was aware of what was in the programme.

        • Frankie

          I note he said that, but if I was acting for him, I would want him to see the programme so that I had EXACT instructions from him. Libel or defamation cases need to be pled precisely, and if there is any scope for the defence to argue that the case against them is inspecific, they will take it.

          That said Carter-Ruck is an eminent firm, and I am sure they know how to pursue a libel case!

  2. Mross

    He actually comes across as very naive and none too bright or savvy
    Did dodgy dave find a patsy?

  3. Steven Doyle

    Whyte will not sue BBC .Bain ,he’s just trying too create a siege mentality amongst the support

  4. TheBlackKnight

    🙂

  5. louie

    Sorry Paul have been busy with papers, to clarify Malcolm is not sitting on the Tribunal. He was asked to scan the developments in Edinburgh and give opinion on the arguments presented, he was not overly impressed by the naked naivety of some of the HMRC positions. He picked up on the six year rule immediately a very grey area that no self respecting Silk should or would stray into, Whytes people are using it in their presentation and defences.
    All in all I am told he thinks Andrew has driven a coach and horses through HMRC submissions, he is annoyed because he wanted a clear run at the matters involving English clubs, he will be HMRC lead in any proceedings, however he feels Edinburgh matters could put this event some way off.

    • TheBlackKnight

      Was he (Malcom) really? Care to explain why Malcom) thought the six year rule is applicable? Given that “no self respecting Silk should or would stray into”.

    • Dear Louie,

      As you clearly have a far better grasp on the issues before the First Tier Tribunal than I have, I wonder if you might have the time to write a detailed analysis of where things stand, without of course compromising any sources if you do not wish to.

      As the earlier parts of the hearing have been, as I understand it, in private, I do not have my usual public sources on which to base my comments, nor sight of pleadings etc.

      As there is some speculation about the six year rule and its application to this case, then your further clarification, if you can manage the time, would be appreciated.

      Paul

      • TheBlackKnight

        Paul,(hope you enjoyed your hols)

        To me the two statements appear contrary!

        “Whytes people are using it (the six year rule) in their presentation and defences”

        This defense appears to be a “very grey area that no self respecting Silk should or would stray into”

        Yet Louie is confident (his source Malcolm Gammie QC) stated;

        “Andrew (Thornhill) has driven a coach and horses through HMRC submissions”

      • TheBlackKnight

        Paul see

        http://rangerstaxcase.com/2011/10/23/disinformation/

        Seems Louie (accountant/Sam/Ashton…….) may have been misleading!

  6. Malcolm

    Louie

    Put down the crayons and eat your lunch.

    Naughty boy

  7. Michael

    Could Whyte’s foolishness in the Scotsman interview be all about him trying to give the impression that the Group FC don’t have cashflow problems? I seem to remember that he was scrambling to raise £100k from a share sale so that he could pay Levy & McRae, and that there was a delay in the funds coming through.

    • TheBlackKnight

      Hence the alleged appeal of the small tax bill perhaps.

      Paul, are you in a position to clarify the statute in regard to tax claims/ disputes and the 6 year rule?

      I am led to believe the Limitation 1980 Act 37 (2) (a) covers this. If this is ‘current’, what grounds does the Whyte Knight have to instruct his legal team to appeal.

      • TBK

        Others have commented elsewhere about the differing time limits for assessments where there is negligence or delibearte acts by the taxpayer.

        I am happy to be educated by others as regards tax issues. One thing is that normal rules restricting the length of time after which a debt can be pursued do not apply when we are dealing with tax debts, whether owed to central governmant or a local authority.

  8. 3 IN A ROW WAE NAE DOUGH.

    Sad Sad Celtic supporters just can’t stop talking about Rangers these days eh? the only real chance you have of stopping us is if we go into admin. But what these thick people do not understand is if, Rangers go into admin Celtic won’t be far behind. and all the clubs in the SPL will go bust aswell. And All the clubs in EPL should be looking over the shoulders aswell because they are next for HMRC.

    • TheBlackKnight

      Like the green logo 😉

    • If Rangers do fail, then the implications for the rest of Scottish football might be serious, indeed as severe as you suggest! I have no axe to grind, nor am I actively wishing for Rangers, or any team, to fail.

      I try to write about matters with a legal connection. If that relates to new laws, English court cases, Scottish court cases, law reform proposals, nonsense in newspapers or football, I am happy to write on it, as you will see from my blog. Perhaps the Hearts situation will next justify a blog piece, or there might be legal developments at Parkhead to comment on.

      For now however, the Rangers story is the interesting one in Scotland as far as football is concerned and Mr Whyte is a rich source of legal issues to write about.

      I claim no monopoly on knowledge, and am quite happy to be corrected if I make a mistake. Please feel free to keep reading and contribute if you wish.

      • TheBlackKnight

        Well said Paul.

        Lots of assumptions bounding around including allegiance’s.

        I am one,however, that disagrees with the assumption “No Rangers = No Celtic = No SPL”

        I am old and wise enough to have seen the titles be ‘dominated’ by clubs outwith Celtic and Rangers

        It will just be like old times (tims 😉 )

        • TBK

          As has been debated at length on RTC, the future for Scottish football is unclear if RFC disappears. As you say, we might be back to a “Golden Age” when there are a few different teams in contention – CEltic might be alll conquering – or loss of income into the game might lead to us having part time teams playing in the SPL with our European competition being on the level of Luxembourg or the Faroes.

          Thankfully there are many far better able to think about those issues than me – I will keep on with the legally focussed ones!

  9. TheBlackKnight

    In relation to the rumours variously and stated ” ” comments from The Whyte Knight, I believe Counsel and Lord Hodge should look at the comments made in lord Hodges judgment

    http://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/opinions/2011CSOH158.html

    “Mr Whyte’s affidavit suggests that HMRC have been able to arrest £2.3 million in Rangers’ bank account. Discussions are continuing between HMRC and Rangers in relation to the level of penalties imposed. In any event, the purchaser of Rangers has undertaken to pay the debt to HMRC. ”

    Hmmm?

  10. Pingback: Disinformation and Deceit « Rangers Tax Case

  11. Pingback: Levy & McRae v Rangers – Back In Court – 9/11/11 – But Only To See If The Bill’s Been Fully Paid | Random Thoughts Re Scots (and Other) Law

  12. Pingback: The Rangers Wee Tax Appeal – If The Telegraph is Right, Did Craig Whyte Mislead the Court in an Affidavit? | Random Thoughts Re Scots (and Other) Law

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