Police are investigating a Twitter account which has been releasing a wave of private correspondences between some of the major players in the long-running crisis surrounding Rangers Football Club, including PR guru and Media House founder Jack Irvine.
For several months, the @CharlotteFakes account has been revealing private email and audio conversations between some of the key figures in the drama engulfing the club, including Irvine, former club owner Craig Whyte – who led the club’s descent into liquidation – and Charles Green, the chief executive of the entity created from the assets of the liquidated club. The account has acquired more than 13,000 followers.
A police spokesman confirmed to The Drum that a probe had been launched: “We can confirm that we did receive a complaint in connection with a Twitter account and police enquiries are ongoing to establish if there is any criminality involved. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
It’s unclear how the information has been obtained but Scottish and national media outlets have steered clear of reporting it, while Scottish football fans have bombarded journalists with requests for coverage, claiming the information is in the public interest.
Media House executive chairman Irvine features heavily in the correspondence but declined to comment on the revelations when approached by The Drum.
Irvine founded Media House more than 20 years ago after a career spanning periods at Murray Media, the Scottish Sun, the Daily Record and the Glasgow Herald and the company has since expanded into London and New York. The PR man once described himself as “combative and aggressive”.
The PR firm was hired by Rangers in 2006 under Sir David Murray and kept on by Craig Whyte following his takeover of the club in 2011. Whyte bought the club for the sum of £1 and an agreement to pay off the club's banking debt.
It emerged some time later that Whyte had used future season ticket monies at the club to secure a loan from lender Ticketus and claims of Whyte’s billion pound wealth were without foundation. Months of crisis and a PR battle followed before the extent of the financial trouble at the club was revealed when it was placed in administration in February 2012, and liquidation four months later.
Although legal firm Levy & McRae successfully requested the removal of some documents from the website being used to host them, Scribd, the anonymous ‘Charlotte’ has continued to reveal streams of information despite the police investigation.
A spokesman for BBC Scotland said the broadcast of any information relating to Rangers must comply with guidelines: “Having aired two documentaries already you can probably imagine that we continue to receive a lot of information from various different sources on the Rangers story as we do with much of our newsgathering activity.
“The editorial criteria which is laid out in our editorial guidelines on verification of sources etc. would apply to any future news stories or docs that we proceed with.”
Channel 4 News chief correspondent Alex Thomson, who covered the Rangers tax story in some depth, indicated on Twitter that the reluctance to report was related to Leveson, leading to speculation the information may have been illegally obtained in the wake of the recent hacking scandal at the News of the World.
The Rangers story has taken a new twist with the emergence of ‘Charlotte’ and the recent revelations, although the account isn’t the first anonymous one to cover developments at Ibrox.
The Rangers Tax Case blog was a thorn in the side of the club during the first-tier tax tribunal over Rangers EBT tax avoidance scheme for paying staff. HMRC claims to be owed tens of millions from the club and the case is ongoing and under appeal after the tribunal ruled in favour of Rangers in a number of the disputed cases. The row led to an investigation by Scottish footballing authorities, which found the club guilty of breaching registration rules earlier this year. The Rangers Tax Case blog was awarded an Orwell Prize in 2011.