Justice Committee convener requests details of Rangers administrator malicious prosecution payouts
Justice Committee convener Adam Tomkins has written to the Lord Advocate and justice secretary Humza Yousaf requesting details of compensation settlements made to two ex-Rangers administrators by the Crown Office and Police Scotland.
David Whitehouse and Paul Clark launched a £20.8m compensation claim against former Police Scotland chief constable Phil Gormley and the Lord Advocate over their “unlawful” arrests as part of a fraud investigation relating to the sale of Rangers to Craig Brown in 2011.
The Crown Office has since admitted the two men were the subject of a “malicious” prosecution and it had breached their human rights.
In October, judge Lord Tyre ordered the Crown Office to make interim payments of £350,000 to Whitehouse and £250,000 to Clark.
The two administrators reached an out of court settlement with Police Scotland for an undisclosed sum in November.
In December it was confirmed they had also reached an agreement with the Crown Office and in addition, they would receive a formal apology from the Lord Advocate.
The exact amount of the settlements remains unconfirmed, but they are reported to exceed £20m.
In the letters Tomkins asks for details of how much is being paid out and the implications of this for the budgets of the Crown Office, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.
Writing to the Lord Advocate, he says: “A variety of figures have been referred to in media coverage and I would like to request that you update the committee on the sums involved, or which could be involved, so that we know the scale of the cost to the taxpayer.
“It would also be helpful if you can indicate from where the payments will be drawn.
“Will these sums be paid from existing budgets held in COPFS? If so, what are the implications for the COPFS in terms of other workstreams which will no longer have these sums allocated to them?
“Alternately, what agreement has been reached with the Scottish Government about providing COPFS with additional funds?”
Tomkins also asked the justice secretary about the amount of money involved and whether any agreement has been reached for additional funding to come from the Scottish Government.
A multi-million pound compensation payout could have significant impact on justice budgets, which totalled £133.8m for the Crown Office and £1.2bn for Police Scotland this year.
Tomkins’ colleague, Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser has called for an inquiry into the settlements.
Fraser has submitted five questions to the Scottish Government on the payout, asking about the amount of the payments, which budget lines they have been paid from, whether anyone has resigned or been fired over the issue and calling for the Lord Advocate to update parliament about it, in addition to requesting an inquiry.
He told The Herald: “If it is true [about the settlement], it is an absolute scandal.
“It is extraordinary at a time when folk are crying out for COVID support that sums like this are being paid out because of a failure in the Crown Office.
“We have been promised a parliamentary statement on this fiasco from the Lord Advocate, but I want to know when we will get this.
“Two innocent men faced prison and ruin as a result of a malicious prosecution.
“The taxpayer is paying out vast sums in compensation. How did this happen and why? Who is to blame? We need to know.”