Rangers chairman Craig Whyte says he will sue BBC Scotland over documentary allegations

Rangers FC owner Craig Whyte has instructed his lawyers to begin legal proceedings against the BBC Scotland over allegations made against him in a documentary broadcast last night.

The programme - ‘BBC Scotland Investigates: Rangers the Inside Story’ - explored Whyte's business dealings before he bought the Scottish champions in May.

The Herald, carrying a report by the Press Association, today quotes a spokesman for Whyte as saying: "Craig Whyte strenuously refutes these unfounded and defamatory allegations and has instructed his lawyers, Carter Ruck, to commence immediate legal proceedings against the BBC.

“Any repetition of these false accusations will also be met with legal action."

The Herald also quotes a BBC Scotland spokesman as responding: "We stand by the investigation which was produced according to our rigorous editorial standards on fairness, accuracy and impartiality.

“As the programme ...makes clear, Craig Whyte took the opportunity to respond to questions which were put to him during the course of the production."

Scotland’s two major terrestrial television channels – BBC 1 Scotland and STV – both vied for viewers last night by focusing on Whyte.

BBC1 Scotland had been widely trailing its 30-minute documentary - by its investigations correspondent, Mark Daly - which went out at 7pm last night.

However, STV came up with a spoiler in a claimed “exclusive“ featured on its News at Six programme in which its chief reporter, David Cowan, conducted what is believed to be Whyte’s first television interview in Scotland.

STV is scheduled to show further excerpts from the Whyte interview on News at Six tonight (Friday).

In its pre-programme publicity, BBC Scotland said the documentary would be available for a week on the iPlayer.

Whyte told STV’s Cowan last night: "I’ve got nothing to hide at all. I am very open. I come to Ibrox regularly. A lot of people know me around here and I’ve got nothing to hide."

When asked about his past business life, which was the primary focus of the BBC1 Scotland documentary, Whyte insisted he has the wealth and expertise to take Rangers through a challenging period in the club's history.

Earlier this week, the Ibrox club withdrew all cooperation with BBC Scotland ahead of the airing of the documentary- describing it as a "prejudiced muck-raking exercise".

Whyte added in his STV interview: "I understand people’s concerns about that (his business life) but I’ve stepped up to the plate to do it. There weren’t a queue of people waiting to take on this challenge.

"When judgment is passed in years to come I think that people will see that I will have taken the business forward, I will have sorted out the issues. Ultimately my track record speaks for itself.

"I’m here; I’m the owner of Rangers. I’m the chairman of Rangers and I have done a lot more successful deals than deals that haven’t worked out. I think that ultimately speaks for itself."

In the STV interview, Whyte also talked about the resignation of club legend and PR supremo, John Greig, and former chairman, John McClelland, from the board this week; the Ibrox club’s battles with the taxman; and the possibility of administration.

The BBC Scotland documentary claimed evidence of alleged criminality in Whyte’s past business dealings – claiming he was banned from being a director for seven years.

And it alleged that Whyte controlled a company- despite his ban, an offence which could incur a two-year jail term.

The Rangers chairman declined to appear in the BBC documentary but in a written statement which was broadcast, denied all the claims made in the programme "in the strongest possible terms".

Whyte owns an 85% stake in Rangers. He paid Sir David Murray £1 for the Glasgow club, and settled its £18m debt to Lloyds Banking Group.

The BBC documentary was broadcast despite Rangers announcing it was withdrawing all co-operations with BBC Scotland.

In a statement, Whyte and Rangers FC had said then: "As a result of the BBC's approach, Mr Whyte and Rangers FC believe there is a strong risk that the programme will mislead and misinform viewers about matters concerning the club, and has suspended the BBC's access to the club.

"Mr Whyte and Rangers wish to reassure viewers - and those of the club's valued fans who may be watching - that the best interests and secure future of the club are and will remain their priority."

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