Craig Whyte’s lawyer ‘thought he was whisky tycoon’

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte arrives at the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte arrives at the High Court in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
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Craig Whyte’s lawyer believed he was someone who had “substantial wealth”, a court heard.

Gary Withey also initially thought the 46 year-old was part of the Whyte and Mackay whisky group when he first showed interest in buying Rangers.

Withey, 52, was giving evidence at Whyte’s trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

He denies a charge of fraud and a second allegation under the Companies Act in connection with his May 2011 takeover at Ibrox.

Mr Withey – who worked as a corporate lawyer with English firm Collyer Bristow – was first introduced to Whyte in mid-2010.

He was made aware Whyte was apparently someone “looking to deals”.

READ MORE: Martin Bain paid £360,000 when Rangers sold to Craig Whyte

Mr Withey went on to invite him to a stock exchange awards bash in London.

The solicitor later learned Whyte was interested in taking over at Rangers.

Mr Withey said he called him as he had had done “football work” in the past during his time as a lawyer.

Prosecutor Alex Prentice QC asked the witness if he was initially aware how any bid was going to be funded.

Mr Withey: “Mr Whyte was portrayed as someone with substantial financial wealth.

“Most people in the City would have said that. One person confused Mr Whyte with Whyte and MacKay.

“At one point, that’s who I thought I was dealing with.”

Mr Withey was eventually instructed in the takeover talks as Whyte looked to acquire Sir David Murray’s majority stake at Rangers.

READ MORE: Craig Whyte trial: Murray adviser ‘appalled’ by Ticketus deal

Mr Prentice again asked about the “source” of funds. Mr Withey said this included “Ticketus”.

Prosecutors claim Whyte helped fund his takeover by getting a loan from the firm against three years of future season ticket sales.

Mr Prentice: “Ticketus handed over a significant amount of money...what were they going to get for that?”

Mr Withey: “Their agreement which sold season tickets to them.”

The advocate depute: “Season tickets belonging to which organisation?”

Mr Withey: “The football club.”

The trial continues.