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by Chris Marshall
11 February 2021
Judge-led inquiry to be held after malicious prosecutions cost taxpayer £24m

The wrongful prosecution relates to the sale of Rangers FC

Judge-led inquiry to be held after malicious prosecutions cost taxpayer £24m

Lord Advocate James Wolffe has confirmed that a judge-led inquiry is to be held into why two men were subject of a malicious prosecution relating to the sale of Rangers.

Wolffe appeared before MSPs at Holyrood yesterday after previously writing to the Scottish Parliament's justice committee with information that financial experts David Whitehouse and Paul Clark had each been paid £10.5m in compensation following the wrongful prosecution.

The bill comes to £24m once their legal expenses are added, although opposition MSPs have warned the final cost could be even higher.

Wolffe said an inquiry would have to wait until all related legal proceedings had concluded, and that a judge from outside Scotland might be required.

Whitehouse and Clark were appointed administrators when the company that ran Rangers went into administration in 2012.

They were arrested in 2014 but all charges were later dropped.

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser MSP said: “We were told by the Lord Advocate that lessons have been learned from this costly debacle but that is simply not good enough.

“Innocent men could have ended up behind bars with their good reputations destroyed because of malicious prosecutions. Taxpayers are left paying the bill. 

“We cannot possibly trust the Lord Advocate to mark his own homework. While he concedes the need for a judge-led inquiry, that does not go far enough."

He added: “Given that Mr Whitehouse has made allegations of criminality, it is therefore vital for a public inquiry to be presided over by an independent judge from outwith Scotland.

Scottish Labour justice spokeswoman Rhoda Grant said: "We must ensure that our justice system is fit for purpose and the only way to do that is to have a public inquiry, led by someone whose independence and legitimacy cannot be questioned.

“That inquiry must look at the role of both the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service as well as the role of the police.”

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