Early on Day 13 of Rangers’ Administration – The Catch Up Service Continues – Suing, Policing and Singing

Just in time for whatever new stories come from the Sunday papers, I can catch up with a couple of loose ends from Friday.

(Sunday Morning Edit – on the basis that the Sunday papers appear to have nothing else in them other than Rangers, I will follow the new developments up later – but I have typed this stuff, so it’s going in!)

 

Mr Whyte and the BBC

First of all, I noted a tweet from Chris McLaughlin of the BBC which quoted Craig Whyte. Could Mr Whyte have been speaking to the BBC?

If so, and if he regains control of Rangers from the administrators, then he will have to fire himself, as per his pledge in October to the BBC!

And talking of the BBC, it has now been confirmed that a writ has been served on it at the instance of Mr Whyte. It seems that the court action is against both the BBC and Robert Burns, Head of Investigations at the Insolvency Service.

I confidently predicted that this court action would never see the light of day. As is often the case, I was wrong!

Formal confirmation as to whether the action has been raised in England or Scotland is awaited. As I have said many times, any action should be raised in England as the financial pressures on the defender to settle are so much higher, and the “no win, no fee” provisions so much more favourable for claimants.

Now that an action has been raised, all I can say is that I am even more astonished.

There are two essential elements in a damages claim, whether for injury to person, reputation or business. There must be a legal wrong committed against the claimant and there must be injury.

In a defamation or libel case, the injury relates to damage to reputation. Has the repute of the person been lowered amongst right thinking people?

When Lord Archer, for example, was at the height of his fame and political prominence, the media was afraid to write about him in a less than positive fashion. He was known to be litigious, and had won a huge award from the Daily Star for libel in 1987. Lord Archer was a prominent and powerful man whose reputation, despite being chipped away at round the edges by Michael Crick and by Private Eye, was still very high.

However, once he was convicted in 2003 of perjury and perverting the course of justice, and gaoled for four years, things changed. The media could effectively write anything it wanted about Lord Archer because his reputation could hardly be lower. If he sued and won in a libel case, the defence would ask the jury to consider how much the reputation of a convicted perjurer was worth. It remains possible for a jury in such a case to find that a person has been libelled, and to award one penny by way of damages.

In October 2011, when the BBC programme was published, Mr Whyte’s reputation was still high. His team had won the league, and despite a looming tax decision, which was nothing to do with him (as far as causing it was concerned) and a couple of trivial disputes with lawyers and ex-employees, he would have been seen as a fine and upstanding member of Scottish society.

We move forward a mere four months and matters are so different.

Mr Whyte has been condemned by a Sheriff for giving evidence described as “wholly unreliable”. His company has been forced into administration. It appears that, since taking over less than one year ago, a further £15 million in outstanding tax liabilities has been accrued. He has been seen either to have been incorrect in statements he has made, or else has said things which turn out to be the opposite of the truth.  He has been revealed as being listed under different names in the Companies House Register, and with differing dates of birth.

It is not easy to think of someone whose reputation in Scotland is now so poor.

Ands yet it is at this time that he raises court proceedings?

One wonders if, like the late Robert Maxwell, Mr Whyte viewed the court action as a way of gagging the media. If he did, he has found out that he required a much bigger gag, and many more of them!

Will this claim ever get to court for a full hearing? I don’t think so. He must be funding it privately (there is no way he can go with a no win, no fee deal here) and these cases are very expensive.

It would not surprise me if, in a few months, there is quiet word that the action has been dropped.

As I have said before, I did not see Mr Whyte winning. Now even if he wins, he will lose!

 

Duff and Phelps – Friday 24th February

DUFF and Phelps, administrators of Rangers Football Club, today issued the following statement.

David Whitehouse, joint administrator, said: “We have had a number of constructive and positive meetings with Strathclyde Police and we can assure fans that matches will continue to be played at Ibrox. Agreements have been reached regarding policing games at Ibrox and payment arrangements have been put in place.

It was reported that, as well as payment for last weekend’s game being late, Rangers owed Strathclyde Police around £50,000. Has this been paid by the administrators? Did the Chief Constable wonder about D&P almost boasting about having met payroll in full at the same time as not paying for the police presence to keep order?

Bearing in mind that the administrators do have access to funds, I expect that the outstanding bill has been paid, and that D&P have guaranteed the future payments to the police. Therefore, even if there are insufficient funds in Rangers to pay the police, D&P would need to settle the bill with the Bill.

D&P are in this role to make a profit, which is entirely legitimate.

Accepting personal liability for debts because there are insufficient funds in the company is not a long-term strategy for an administrator.

“We would like to thank Strathclyde Police for its continued assistance and co-operation. Matches will be played at Ibrox for the rest of the season so we urge all fans to keep coming along and continue their tremendous support for the Club at this difficult time.”

Yet again confirmation that the administrators plan to keep going to season’s end. How is this being funded?

Although there are still six weeks to go before D&P are required to make their proposals, they must by now have a good idea as to how they are to achieve their statutory goals, or if these are unattainable.

With every day which passes, it looks as if settling the secured creditor might be the only target achievable, and that depends on the validity of the floating charge and of any assignations, transfers or revisals thereto.

 

The SPL Investigation Into Singing at the Rangers v Kilmarnock Game

Following reports that the SPL is investigating Rangers regarding the behaviour of some fans at the Rangers v Kilmarnock match at Ibrox on 18th February, David Martin, Head of Safety and Security at Rangers Football Club issued a statement:

“We are disappointed the Club is now the subject of an investigation by the SPL regarding the behaviour of some fans at the match against Kilmarnock on Saturday.

“Our fans have made tremendous progress in eradicating offensive singing over the last few seasons and this has been widely acknowledged by members of the Joint Action Group set up by the Scottish Government last year, politicians and the police, to name a few.

“Last Saturday’s match was one of high emotion following an extremely difficult week for the Club and the fans representatives themselves approached the Club prior to Saturday’s match highlighting the raw emotion anticipated at the game on Saturday, the variety of protests being considered and their concern that many people attending may not have been to Ibrox for some time.

“The Club held a number of meetings and conversations with the football authorities, police and administrators prior to the match and everyone agreed that the priority on Saturday was to ensure there was no disorder around the match due to the highly charged atmosphere that was anticipated.

“This was achieved before, during and after the match with 50,000 fans safely attending the game.

“To be clear, I am not saying there was an excuse for any offensive behaviour but, overall, the fans gave very positive support to the team and this should not be overlooked.

“The Club has been consistent in its condemnation of such behaviour over many years and we are working with Strathclyde Police to identify individuals whom we know were engaged in offensive behaviour around the ground and we will take swift action against them, as we always do.

“No one is more disappointed than the fans themselves that some people’s behaviour seems to have marred the tremendous support of the fans last Saturday.”

I think Mr Martin deserves praise for what is a dignified response to an undignified situation. He does not attempt to deny there was a problem. Indeed, he quite clearly accepts that there was one.

The primary goal of preventing disorder, as opposed to “illicit” singing, was achieved.

The tactic described by him of the police taking action post-match is one which was identified by Assistant Chief Constable Corrigan at the Justice Committee last year as being better for the sake of escalating problems in the ground during a match.

Whereas under Mr Whyte the attitude seemed to be (a) Rangers fans had done nothing wrong (b) why can’t we sing our old songs anyway and (c) other people sing offensive songs too, this response by Mr Martin can only be seen as positive, and will be repeated, I am sure, by Rangers prior to any more home games they manage to play.

As D&P have asked for a full house for future games, there is clearly a danger of some groups performing the songs which the club has made clear are not acceptable.

It does appear that they are trying to do something to stop it.

Credit where credit is due, especially as Mr Martin’s post, like that of everyone at Ibrox, is under imminent threat.

 

Addendum

Lots of news today – I plan to post more later today.

I suspect the Sun story today, being apparent proof of the “second contract” speculation, will turn out to be more significant for Scottish football than anything involving Mr Whyte.

And finally, if anyone wants to chip in with pieces for the blog, please feel free to click on the link in the heading.

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11 Comments

Filed under Administration, BBC, Civil Law, Craig Whyte's Companies, Defamation, Football, Rangers, SPL

11 responses to “Early on Day 13 of Rangers’ Administration – The Catch Up Service Continues – Suing, Policing and Singing

  1. BMCUWP

    Morning,Paul.

    Does the final comment suggest a degree of complicity within the corridors of power?

    Surely there can’t be the occasional e-mail kicking around where the matter is discussed?

  2. Nearly there now

    Good morning Paul,

    Thanks, that is a good read and I agree with most of what you have written.

    To your credit you opted to praise David Martin’s response to the SPL investigation into the Rangers’ fans behaviour at their home match with Kilmarnock, when others have been rather less appreciative of the statement.

    I hope you are right, and this is a step in the right direction by Rangers and they actually start to condemn the singing and chanting in question rather than, as they have done up until now- merely asking fans to refrain as it causes trouble for the club.

    I am struck however by David’s description of the songs in question as being “offensive”- the latest all-inclusive term. I am sure there will have been many games played up and down the country yesterday that incorporated “offensive” singing and chanting by fans. I suggest that there will have been few, if any, that were plagued with sectarian, bigoted and racist singing and chanting.

    It may have been a change in tactics but I remain to be convinced the strategy has altered.

  3. Joseph

    Brilliant investigative journalism and analysis. I suspect the reason there are no more replies to the above article at this early stage is that readers are, unlike the writer, struggling to take in all the twists and turns. I also suspect many are glued to this site. If I want to know what is happening re Rangers this is my first stop. Please continue and I will put an order in now for the best seller when it is published!

  4. gopaul

    Glasgow Rangers – my part in its downfall

    Sounds like a bestseller, movie deal , straight to dvd, directors cut ……….

    As stated by others – this and the RTC site as the place to read all about it – and get astonishing in-depth reporting, analysis and comment – and the quality of comments is very high toooooo

    please keep it up – what a read – like big brother – only better

  5. TheBlackKnight

    “Whereas under Mr Whyte the attitude seemed to be (a) Rangers fans had done nothing wrong (b) why can’t we sing our old songs anyway and (c) other people sing offensive songs too, this response by Mr Martin can only be seen as positive, and will be repeated, I am sure, by Rangers prior to any more home games they manage to play.”

    Paul, sorry have to disagree with this part.

    The old board(s), and to a degree so have the authorities, have been complicit in this for years.

    It was most recently witnessed in the UEFA judgement and Rangers claim they were being unfairly treated. The Scottish Cup final was a disgrace! Lauded by politicians and the SFA as being a “shining example”.

    Rangers (at high level) have made great attempts to deal with this blight on Scottish Society.

    Question is, like the EBTs, did they do this out of integrity and a decision to take a moral stance or because they were forced to (both commercially and politically)?

    • Compulsive Viewer

      Have to correct you my Lord.

      The Scottish Cup Final was a good natured, though damp affair, between Motherwell and Celtic.
      However the Scottish League Cup between Rangers and Celtic was marred with sectarian singing.

      Keep up the good work TBK

  6. ifa007

    CRAIG WHYTE-OCTOPUS-TICKETUS-PRITCHARD-MERCHANT HOUSE

    FSA

    Craig Whyte was company secretary at Pritchard Stockbrokers, which was banned from regulated activities by the FSA earlier this month, for the way it handled client assets. Although he was company secretary he was not listed on the FSA Register, this could be the position of board secretary was not regarded as a controlled function. Maybe if a compliance bod’ is reading this they could comment.

    I would be interested to know how many Pritchard clients invested in the Octopus EIS. Could this not fall into the category of conflict of interest/insider trading?

    Merchant House Group is 18.2 per cent owned by Liberty Capital, a venture capitalist firm registered in the British Virgin Islands and owned by Craig Whyte. Merchant Capital had £8.8m on account with Pritchard Stockbrokers in Bournemouth at the end of June 2011.

    http://tinyurl.com/7gxye9j
    Merchant Pensum acted as introducer for Craig Whyte on his potential acquisition of a majority shareholding in Rangers Football Club PLC from Murray International Holdings.

    http://tinyurl.com/74zwlgw

    AWD Chase de Vere and St James’s Place both say they have a small number of clients invested in the Octopus protected enterprise investment scheme caught up in the Glasgow Rangers’ administration.

    http://tinyurl.com/7pl5wmz

    Merchant won’t rule out income delays after stockbroker suspension

    http://tinyurl.com/6tehpep

    First Supervisory Notice – Pritchard Stockbrokers Limited

    http://tinyurl.com/82jsddf

    “Craig Whyte steps down from three director roles”

    http://tinyurl.com/8yv6pcf

    Investors warned over Pritchard Stockbrokers

    Quote from the Herald:: “A source close to the administrators said Whyte may have used money from a “third party” as proof of funds before he eventually used season ticket money to buy the club”

    I have serious concerns as to the Anti Money Laundering process which should have been conducted. . A deposit of x amount in your account is not sufficient proof, an audit trail as where funds originated from is “normally” required.

    Finally, I am surprised that the FSA have not launched an investigation into Mr Whyte himself.

  7. bounty

    I am a bit puzzled about the hooha surrounding payment for policing of last week’s game at Ibrox. Normal procedure is to send the bill in the week after the game, and Strathclyde police terms are 28 days.

    Sure, they might not have been paid for previous games and have an outstanding balance, but unless D+P agreed to pay on the nose for this game, it does seem a bit soon to say otherwise.

  8. gopaul

    early day 13….. wheres later on day 13, or day 14…..

    feed me!!!!

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