The victim of a malicious prosecution has questioned Police Scotland’s claims the force only paid him £75,000 in damages.
David Whitehouse, we can reveal, received £310,000 from the national force in compensation and legal costs and has queried Chief Constable Iain Livingstone’s suggestion to MSPs that only £75,000 was for damages.
That is the amount the chief constable can sign off without asking the Scottish Police Authority for authority but Whitehouse, who was investigated and prosecuted for no reason as part of an inquiry into the takeover and collapse of Rangers, said Livingstone’s statements to a Holyrood committee did “not reflect the reality of what happened”.
Whitehouse received £310,000 in costs and damages while a colleague, also maliciously prosecuted, is thought to have been paid a similar amount by the force.
Whitehouse was arrested, locked in a cell for six days and pursued by Police Scotland and the Crown Office for months over an investigation into the deal to buy the Ibrox club from administration in 2012.
He and Paul Clark, a colleague at restructuring firm Duff & Phelps, have already received £21 million in compensation from the Crown Office and an apology after Lord Advocate James Wolffe admitted their prosecution, later abandoned, had been wrongful and malicious.
Police Scotland also paid the men damages but, addressing the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee on February 11, Livingstone said the sum was below the £75,000 he is authorised to sign off without seeking clearance from oversight body the SPA.
He told MSPs: “On the settlement, as I think you heard from the Scottish Police Authority, I never asked for any authority for the extrajudicial settlement that I agreed with the representatives of Clark and Whitehouse. The reason for that was because it was within the limits of my delegated authority in terms of litigation. My delegated authority is to the limit of £75,000.
“I was able to settle with Clark and Whitehouse regarding their specific claims against policing. There was also a commensurate contribution towards legal expenses, as members will imagine, and thereafter the settlement was made and validated by the court. I am not allowed to say anything more than that in detail.”
However, Whitehouse received £310,000 from Police Scotland in a series of payments, including a final payment last year of £150,000. It is understood Clark received a similar sum. Yesterday, committee convener Jenny Marra said members will now seek clarity on the sums paid out.
Whitehouse, who has welcomed the promise of a judicial inquiry into the scandal, which could cost taxpayers £100m in costs and compensation, received payments from Police Scotland of £130,000 and £30,000, for legal costs in 2018. He then received a payment last year of £150,000.
He told The Sunday Post: “I am surprised by the chief constable’s comments to the parliamentary committee as they do not reflect the reality of what happened. I intend to ensure the true position will be disclosed to a public inquiry in due course.”
Marra, convener of the Public Audit and Post Legislative Committee, said: “The committee has asked for further information in relation to the resources and costs involved in the Rangers investigation. We hope this will provide clarity as to the amounts of money paid, which we understand also includes a contribution towards legal expenses.”
Scottish Conservative MSP and committee member Graham Simpson said: “The chief constable was clear to the committee about how much compensation had been paid out so far by Police Scotland. For one of the victims of this injustice to now question that is worrying. The committee will need to get to the bottom of it. We need to know exactly how much this has cost Police Scotland, especially given the extreme pressure on policing budgets.”
The SNP’s Alex Neil MSP: “We require clarity from the SPA or Police Scotland on how much was paid to Mr Witehouse and on whether each payment was within the delegated authority of the chief constable. We need a clear breakdown as he appears to be challenging what the committee was told.
“We need to know how much Mr Whitehouse was paid and how the delegated authority amount relates to those payments. As a committee member, I would want an accurate account of that.”
Yesterday, Police Scotland said Livingstone’s account to the committee was entirely correct, adding: “The chief constable gave an accurate account of matters to the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee and any suggestion otherwise is utterly false.”
The Scottish Police Authority said: “The authority was not required to approve either of the legal settlements as they were both within the chief constable’s delegated limits. Delegated limit for individual settlements is £75,000.”
Current Lord Advocate James Wolffe last year admitted the prosecution of Whitehouse and Clark was wrongful and malicious and this month addressed parliament about the cases.
MSPs heavily criticised Wolffe’s predecessor, Frank Mulholland, now a High Court judge, over how the prosecution was pursued, but Lord Mulholland responded the claims were “false and scandalous” and that he had been the victim of an “unfounded personal attack”.
Separate cases for damages related to the scandal are ongoing and it is estimated compensation and legal fees could cost taxpayers up to £100m, with the bill being covered by the Scottish government reallocating resource that may have been designated for health, education or infrastructure projects. A judicial inquiry has been promised into the what happened.
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