Rangers FC owner Craig White accuses BBC Scotland of a ‘witch-hunt’
Rangers FC owner and chairman Craig White has accused BBC Scotland of a "witch-hunt" after it claimed that it has uncovered evidence on his business affairs which suggests he may have lied in court and committed perjury.
BBC Scotland made the claims last night in news articles and in a special report by its investigations correspondent, Mark Daly, on current affairs programme Newsnight Scotland.
The crux of the BBC Scotland’s case is that during a civil case last year, White told Glasgow Sheriff Court his seven-year ban from being a company director did not relate to treatment of creditors.
However, the corporation said that the judge who imposed the ban said company assets were "put out of the reach of the creditors".
The Rangers owner last night accused the BBC of a "witch-hunt" and said the matter would be dealt with robustly by his lawyers.
Whyte's seven-year disqualification, imposed in 2000, was revealed by a BBC Scotland investigation – ‘Rangers: The Inside Story’ - which was broadcast last year. The programme led to Whyte's claim that his ban related to a "technicality" with Rangers FC subsequently withdrawing all cooperation with BBC Scotland.
The documentary alleged that Whyte controlled a company called Re-Tex Plastic Technology despite his ban - an offence which could incur a two-year jail term.
Following the screening of the documentary, Whyte denied all the claims "in the strongest possible terms" and said he would be launching legal action against the BBC.
However, BBC Scotland said last night that, as yet, it had not received a writ.
BBC Scotland claims that it has now obtained documents, dated after Whyte was disqualified in 2000, appear to show that he controlled 85% of Re-Tex shares.
However, Whyte continues to deny being anything other than a small investor in the company, which was wound up in 2003.
A statement was released last night on behalf of White in response to BBC Scotland’s new allegations. This is the full text of that statement: "These accusations, which are simply a variation on what the BBC already alleged in a documentary riddled with inaccuracies and falsehoods and broadcast last year, are defamatory and clearly form part of a concerted campaign by the BBC to embarrass Craig Whyte personally and to damage Rangers Football Club. This is clearly a witch-hunt by the BBC.
"In specific terms, Mr Whyte totally refutes the scurrilous allegation that he may have committed perjury in a court of law in December last year. The responses he gave to questions relating to matters that took place some 17 years ago were given truthfully and to the best of his recollection.
"In relation to Re-Tex, Mr Whyte repeats that he was not a director of this company and did not at any time have financial control over the company. His only relationship with the company was either as an investor or as a lender.
"The further allegation that he was involved in share issue arrangements on behalf of Re-Tex is again both false and defamatory.
"In the BBC's documentary last year, the accusation was made that Mr Whyte could have been guilty of criminal activity. Yet, neither before nor since the broadcast, has there been any criminal investigation into any aspect of Mr Whyte's business dealings.
"This renewed attack by the BBC, as with matters that were aired by the BBC last year, are in the hands of Mr Whyte's lawyers and will be contested robustly.
"There has been no offer by the BBC to provide any documentary proof in support of their accusations.
"Mr Whyte is in no doubt that this latest attack is part of a concerted campaign to damage both him and Rangers FC and follows the decision by the club to withdraw co-operation with the corporation. This was as a result of the documentary broadcast last year which also made a series of false and defamatory claims."