Secret recordings released by the anonymous @CharlotteFakes Twitter account can be given in evidence in a £28m legal action brought by the liquidators of Oldco Rangers against Craig Whyte’s former lawyers, a judge ruled today.
The suit against Collyer Bristow centres on claims that the legal firm, which acted for former Rangers owner Craig Whyte, is partially responsible for the subsequent administration and liquidation of the company and is alleged to have been involved in conspiracy, negligence and breach of trust.
Collyer Bristow denies the accusations and suggests all it did was assist its client in a normal "leveraged takeover".
The "Charlotte" material in question consists of voice recordings involving Whyte and others involved in the takeover. Cyril Kinsky QC, for Collyer Bristow, told the pre-trial hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice that much of the media had decided that the material "may have been unlawfully obtained" and that in a "post-Leveson world the press are not as fulsome as they were in the past."
However the QC showed the court postings from football blogs and other "chatter on the web" discussing the recordings and argued that this consisted of publication and therefore confidentiality was lost.
Responding for the claimants, Mark Phillips QC told the judge that police objections to using the material had been dropped on 13 February and that Craig Whyte himself had emailed stating he had no issue with the tapes being used in evidence.
Phillips did argue that that tape transcripts should be partially redacted to remove any references to confidential legal advice given to Whyte as this was covered by privilege. The presiding judge, Mr Justice Newey, agreed that the material was relevant and admissible and ordered that an edited transcript of the recordings be made available to the court.
In the wake of the judge's decision, questions were already being asked if it would lead to a change of attitude by the Scottish media to the "Charlotte" revelations which they have been so far reluctant to publish. Alex Thomson, chief correspondent for Channel 4 News, tweeted: "So - finally some of the Charlotte Fakes material may be legally published by the MSM."
The full trial is due to begin in January 2015 with Cohen & Stephen (the liquidators of Rangers 2012), Trustees of the Jerome Group plc Pension Fund and HMRC all expected to be represented in court.