The criminal justice system in Scotland (and south of the border) is on its knees. It lacks funds to appropriately prosecute crime, this week I spoke to a shopkeeper who closed a business which flourished for decades, citing, among other things, the inability to deter shoplifters.
So what does this have to do with football? We learned yesterday The Crown Office has increased its allocation to deal with the malicious prosecution of Rangers administrators and those who purchased the assets. By March this year, £51.7m had been paid out, and additional £8.8m has been set aside to settle on-going matters.
The Crown Office have accepted they maliciously prosecuted people involved in the Rangers period in administration. High barriers normally have to be overcome to get the Crown Office to prosecute anyone. This case is remarkable in that it was pursued without necessary evidence, an inquiry – of sorts – will follow.
The headlines will explain that Newco Rangers’ founding director, Charles Green, was one of the victims, as well as insolvency practitioners and others involved around the time of the failure of Oldco and incorporation of Newco. No one yet is calling out who went after them. Why they went after them. Or on whose behalf they went after them. The latter question is perhaps the reason no subsequent prosecutions have taken place.
I have no time for Green, Duff and Phelps, Whyte or any of the other characters involved in this tale. But, in 2012 and 2013 the Scottish media led a campaign against those who sold Rangers assets to the stakeholders of Sevco Scotland. It was partisan and it was coordinated. It went hand-in-hand with the malicious prosecutions.
Innocent people were harassed, arrested and subject to years of pressure. The guilty sailed off into the sunset, untouched by the law. There is a custom for civil actions (like this compensation episode) to be paused while criminal prosecutions take precedent, it never goes the other way around.
The Crown Prosecution Service would rather we all looked the other way. News desks across the country know all about it because they were foot soldiers in the game. They are limited in what they can do, but if they could find 10% of the agitation they used a decade ago, the powerful might think twice before opting for a cover up.