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Malicious prosecution victim: Chief is still understating cost of damages

© SNS Group David Whitehouse
David Whitehouse

An insolvency expert has accused Police Scotland’s chief constable of repeatedly understating how much the force paid him in damages.

David Whitehouse was responding to a new statement by Iain Livingstone intended to detail how much civil actions linked to a groundless Rangers fraud investigation had cost the force.

Last month, Livingstone told MSPs that damages paid had been less than £75,000 but last week confirmed a total of £310,000 had been paid to Whitehouse and his legal team. The chief constable continued to insist damages only accounted for £75,000 of the total and so remained within his “delegated authority”.

However, Whitehouse yesterday disputed the accounting, stating: “The agreement I reached provided that Police Scotland paid me £150,000 in settlement of the case. It did not include an apportionment for the recovery of costs and had it done so I would not have accepted it. In addition to the payment of £150,000 I received earlier payments from police of around £160,000 in respect of costs. I am happy to provide parliament with the documentation.”

Police chief Iain Livingstone gives evidence to public audit committee

In a letter to Holyrood’s public audit committee released on Thursday, Livingstone stated that, in December, “a total sum of £150,000 was paid to lawyers representing Whitehouse in agreed full resolution of his civil action. This sum comprised of £75,000 in damages and £75,000 as a contribution to Whitehouse’s legal expenses.”

Livingstone stated the settlement followed a “formal offer” of £75,000 in 2018 which included an offer to “meet Whitehouse’s reasonable legal costs to that date”.

However, Graeme Pearson, a former senior police officer and ex-Labour MSP, said: “Given the chief constable’s delegated authority allows payments up to £75,000, this does not quite equate to the sums of several hundred thousand pounds which Police Scotland have actually paid out over this case.”

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.”

Police Scotland said: “The chief constable provided an accurate account of matters during his evidence to the Public Audit and Post-legislative Scrutiny Committee in the public interest and to support transparency. Following a request by the committee and Whitehouse’s public intervention, the chief constable was able to share further details in correspondence which has been published by the Scottish parliament.

“The chief constable also reported these matters publicly at the Scottish Police Authority board meeting on February 24 where the SPA legal committee chair confirmed his evidence was consistent with information provided to the committee.”