The Daily Record today reports further dramatic developments in the battle for control of Rangers Football Club.
According to the Record Craig Whyte is pursuing his claims that Mr Green reneged on a deal they had agreed after the company which owned the football team went into administration.
Mr Whyte is looking for a piece of the pie, and a large one at that!
I will, as long as I can avoid being dragooned into gardening, go through what Mr Green was quoted as saying in the Sun yesterday in detail. That is not to say that he is necessarily right or wrong in what he alleges, but, as I explain below, Mr Whyte seems committed to this course of action, perhaps more than people might expect (and some of those in Ibrox might be surprised by his resolve too).
There are some points though which I think are worthy of note.
First of all, unless I am mistaken, despite Mr Whyte being someone who repeatedly threatened court action against all and sundry when he was in charge of Rangers, and who has also repeatedly threatened people with legal action since, his proceedings, as reported today by the Record, would only be the second case which was actually raised by him.
There were many court actions in which he was involved, but always as the defender, or with one of his companies as defender.
The only action which he raised was a much threatened and delayed case against the BBC for defamation in connection with its Inside Story documentary. However this action was served on the BBC and then nothing more seems to have been done. The administration of Rangers happened after service and Mr Whyte presumably felt that his reputation was damaged enough by that. Indeed he was sued for fees by the Glasgow solicitors whom he had instructed.
But he has now raised proceedings at the High Court in London, according to the Daily Record’s report.
He will not have raised proceedings on his own. He will have engaged solicitors and Counsel to do so. It is not cheap to raise a court action in London.
I once had a client who was defending a court action in the High Court. As the case was in England the client was instructing agents directly. The client was referred on to a firm of solicitors who took a £10,000 payment to account simply to have an initial meeting with two partners and with counsel. After two months work, which seemed to consist of telling the client that the lawyers still needed more information, they presented a bill for a further £30,000. The case had not called in court in that time and the line they were taking seemed, to me at least, to be nonsensical.
Big City of London law firms have very fancy offices in prime business areas. Someone has to pay for that and the clients foot the bills.
Therefore Mr Whyte has done one of the following.
Either he has committed a substantial amount of money to pursuing this case (and the costs of a contested action in the High Court can easily exceed £1 million).
Or else he has been able to persuade solicitors to act on a contingency or “no win, no fee” basis. To do so involves the lawyer being convinced that the case has enough prospects of success to make it worthwhile pursuing. That might come from a negotiated settlement or from a court decision. In either event it takes a lot of evidence to persuade lawyers to pursue a case like this, knowing that is unsuccessful, their time will have been wasted.
So it looks as if Mr Whyte is committed to pursuing this, and equally that Mr Green is committed to defending the case.
And here comes a further issue.
According to the Sun, to whom Mr Green gave an exclusive interview:-
“CHARLES Green last night sensationally admitted shafting Craig Whyte to buy Rangers.
The Rangers chief said he would have told him ANYTHING to get the keys to Ibrox.
Green, 59, revealed he lied to former owner Whyte so he could buy the club — but insisted it was only to save Gers from the man who plunged them into administration.”
Mr Green has a history of “shooting from the lip” in interviews. I suspect that his legal advisors, as opposed to his PR advisors, have their hearts in their mouths every time he speaks. For example, accusing an alleged creditor of being blackmailers and terrorists is not normally the way that a PLC CEO talks!
Let’s imaging that Mr Green finds himself in a witness box in this new case pursued by Mr Whyte (or indeed in any other case).
I suspect that some of the first questions put to him in cross-examination would be on the following lines.
“Mr Green, you told the Sun newspaper that you lied to Mr Whyte so that you could get what you wanted. How can this court know that you are telling the truth now?
Or are you telling this court lies as well so that you can get what you want?
How can this court rely on a single word you say as being anything other than self-serving and mendacious?”
(Clearly if Mr Green does give evidence he will do so under oath and undoubtedly would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. That does not stop counsel for the other party questioning his reliability and credibility.)
I suspect that Mr Whyte hopes that he will be made a payment to “go away”. However, as he is being pursued, apparently, by Ticketus for many millions of pounds, then presumably Mr Whyte wants an awful lot to settle this claim. After all, winning £1 million, for example, from Rangers would do him little good if he ended up bankrupt owing Ticketus over £20 million!
Posted by Paul McConville