Craig Whyte portrayed as ‘pantomime villain’ in Rangers case

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been cleared of taking over the Glasgow football club by fraud. Picture: John Devlin
Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has been cleared of taking over the Glasgow football club by fraud. Picture: John Devlin
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Craig Whyte was cast as the “pantomime villain” of the Rangers story, according to his defence lawyer.

Donald Findlay QC told the trial at the High Court in Glasgow that both Mr Whyte and previous Rangers owner Sir David Murray had been “ill-served’’ by their advisers in the run-up to the takeover deal.

READ MORE: Craig Whyte cleared
The defence lawyer, a former Rangers vice-chairman, said the “glory days” at the club had gone by the time Mr Whyte appeared with a takeover offer in 2011 and he accused the Rangers board at the time of the sale of performing poorly.

Closing his cross-examination of Sir David in the early stages of the trial, Mr Findlay asked: ‘’From the point of you stepping down and Craig Whyte taking over, what had these men done to your football club? Sir David, to our football club?’’

Less than a year after Mr Whyte took over in May 2011, the club was in administration.

The blame for its collapse had to be shared and Mr Findlay said the whole saga leading up to the court case may have been avoided if the team had performed better in European competition, earning significant prize money.

Rangers were knocked out of Champions League qualifying by Swedish side Malmo in August 2011.

“If Rangers had made the league section of the Champions League, do we actually think we would be here today?” the defence lawyer asked the jury.

“The probability is no.”

The fallout from the collapse of Rangers led to a number of former directors and people involved with the club being arrested by Police Scotland over the years, but charges were dropped and only Mr Whyte has faced a trial.

Towards the end of the case, Mr Findlay told the court: ‘’Before this trial started, beyond this court and elsewhere, there have been attempts to portray Craig Whyte as a pantomime villain, the person responsible, so he must take the whole blame.

‘’Aided and abetted by the Crown approach, people are now trying to make him the fall guy and that’s what this is about.”