Police accused of ‘smokescreen’ in ex Rangers administrator’s £9m claim

Ibrox stadium.
Ibrox stadium.

Police authorities were accused of seeking to set up “a sort of smokescreen” as they defend a £9 million damages claim brought by a former Rangers administrator.

David Whitehouse raised the action against former Police Scotland Chief Constable Philip Gormley and the country’s senior law officer, the Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC, who are contesting the claim.

Mr Whitehouse had sought to have a court rule in his favour in the case against the police without evidence being heard.

His motion for summary decree to be granted began last month but was adjourned as lawyers acting for the chief constable sought to amend their pleadings.

The hearing was due to resume over two days next week but a judge discharged the court dates today (wed) and continued the motion to be heard in May when other issues in the action are due to come before the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Lord Malcolm said that Heriot Currie QC, for Mr Whitehouse, had insisted that “something in the nature of a smokescreen is in play”.

The judge added: “But, at least at the moment, I am unable to confirm that proposition.”

Maria Maguire QC, for the chief constable, had urged that next week’s hearing be postponed and said a considerable amount of materiel had to be considered.

But Heriot Currie QC, for Mr Whitehouse, said it was an example of a defender seeking to set up “the sort of smokescreen” that summary decree was established to seek to avoid.

Mr Currie said that matters at issue in the motion were entirely within the knowledge of the chief constable and the relevant documents were his.

He said the issues were whether officers who detained and arrested Mr Whitehouse in 2014 and 2015 had acted lawfully and whether they had sufficient evidence to justify their actions.

In the compensation claim it is maintained that throughout his detention there were not reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Whitehouse had committed an offence and there was insufficient evidence to justify a charge.

Mr Whitehouse (52) from Cheshire, claims that his detention and arrest by detectives investigating the fallout from Craig Whyte’s takeover of the Ibrox club in 2011 were wrongful and damage was inflicted on his professional reputation.

He and his colleague, Paul Clark, were appointed joint administrators of Rangers in 2012 after the club struggled to meet its liabilities following its sale to Mr Whyte by Sir David Murray.

The club later entered liquidation and was subsequently sold to a consortium led by Charles Green.

A later attempt by the Crown to prosecute Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark, of Duff & Phelps, and others floundered as charges were dropped or thrown out. Only Mr Whyte ultimately stood trial and he was acquitted by a jury at the High Court in Glasgow.

Mr Whitehouse maintains in the damages claim that his human rights were infringed through unlawful detentions and arrests and that as a result he suffered loss, injury and damage. The chief constable disputes the contention.