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Failure to apologise for wrongful arrest of ex-Rangers finance chief set to cost taxpayer up to £72m

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A FAILURE to apologise to one of the men wrongly arrested as part of the “malicious” Rangers fraud prosecutions scandal is to cost the taxpayer up to £72 million, The Herald on Sunday can reveal.

Former Ibrox finance chief Imran Ahmad requested a simple apology three years ago from the Lord Advocate, the chief legal officer of the Scottish Government and the Crown in Scotland over his wrongful arrest in place of a damages claim, but was “unbelievably” turned down.

Former Ibrox finance chief Imran Ahmad is pursuing a £75m claim against the Lord Advocate over the loss of his livelihood and “irreparable reputational harm” over what his legal team argue was a “malicious” prosecution in the failed Rangers club fraud case.

In the latest twist in an ‘abuse of state power’ scandal, the Herald on Sunday understands Mr Ahmad offered to settle the wrongful arrest issue for zero damages three years ago in return for a letter of apology from the Crown Office.

It means that the taxpayer now faces a bill of over £130m for the malicious prosecutions scandal with nearly £50m already paid out to those who were wrongly accused.

Sources close to Mr Ahmad’s case say the offer was made so that he could take up further business opportunities, including the position of a chief executive with a company – nearly two years after charges against him were dropped by the Crown Office. Lord Mulholland was the Lord Advocate when the investigations were taking place but it was his replacement James Wolffe QC who had been handling the fallout from 2016 before he stood down last year.

The apology was required to take the sting off the reputational damage caused by Mr Ahmad’s arrest.

Mr Ahmad, who is understood to have been a key player in the £5.5m takeover of Rangers by the Charles Green-fronted Sevco consortium eventually was told in August, 2020 that the Lord Advocate intended to issue a public apology in August over the wrongful prosecution. A public apology was eventually provided by the then Lord Advocate James Wolffe in June, 2021 – nearly a year later.


But by then it was all too late as an embittered Mr Ahmad was forced to trigger his action to salvage his reputation and will now expect to get significant damage.

Sources close to the executive said that he believes that even if he was offered £50m he would want to go to court to “lift the lid” on the behavior of police and prosecutors.

“He would rather not put his savings and eight years of his life into this malicious prosecution nonsense,” a source told the Herald on Sunday.

“You don’t get accused of serious organized crime and get welcomed back into the world wide business community.

“He thought he was going to be a David and Goliath case to take on so all he wanted was a simple apology. He just wanted to get on with his life and take advantage of business opportunities. But they told him to ‘eff’ off . It is unbelievable. Especially as the apology eventually came.”

Subsequent attempts to mediate in the Mr Ahmad’s action over wrongful prosecution have failed to reach a settlement with his legal team accusing the Lord Advocate of “egregious” behavior.

The case is now expected to go to court to decide exactly how much should be awarded to Mr Ahmad.

He was charged in 2014 along with six other men during an investigation into how Scots businessman Craig Whyte bought the club company from Sir David Murray for £1 in May, 2011.


They were subjected to detention and criminal proceedings in relation to fraud allegations in the wake of Mr Whyte’s disastrous purchase of Rangers and its subsequent sale before a judge dismissed all charges.

The police investigation was launched against a backdrop of the controversial nature of Mr Whyte’s nine-months in charge.

He agreed to take on Rangers’ financial obligations, which included an £18m bank debt, a potential £72m ‘big tax case’ bill, a £2.8m “small tax case” liability, £1.7m for stadium repairs, £5m for players and £5m in working capital.

But there were recriminations when it emerged Mr Whyte’s takeover was supported with the mortgaging of future season ticket sales and the club’s 2012 Sevco buyout from administration led by Mr Green.

Among the beneficiaries of malicious prosecutions in the Rangers case were finance experts David Whitehouse and Paul Clark of multi-national consultants Duff and Phelps who were appointed administrators of Rangers when it fell into insolvency in 2012.

They settled out of court with the Crown Office last year to the tune of around £26.6m including costs, with the Lord Advocate admitting a malicious prosecution.

The amount of damage in Mr Ahmad’s claim has now soared to £75m he seeks to salvage his reputation.

The latest to win their claim is Duff and Phelps, the administrators who took over Rangers finances when the club financially imploded in 2012 under the ownership of Mr Whyte.

Kroll, who owns Duff and Phelps, was seeking a multi-million pound damages payout as they took legal action against the Crown Office for alleged “reputational damages” relating to the wrongful arrests of their employees.

An agreement has been settled out of court to the tune of £15.5m.

Ex-Rangers supremo Mr Whyte is also suing police and prosecutors for £10m over ‘wrongful arrest’.

The businessman was last man standing in the fraud case but was cleared after a court trial.

Mr Green has already won a £6.4m payout after a further malicious prosecution admission.


But there has so far been no similar admission in the case of David Grier, a Duff and Phelps executive, who has been seeking £8.7m damages against Scotland’s senior law officer and police chief.

The final man in the frame over the failed fraud conspiracy case was Gary Withey, the Surrey lawyer with Collyer Bristow who advised Mr Whyte during his Rangers takeover. He saw his conspiracy charge dropped, died three years ago.

Court of Session judge Lord Tire accepted that there was “no probable cause” to prosecute and later ruled that Mr Grier had not made out a case that there was a malicious prosecution.

No award was made, in a decision that is being appealed.

Mr Ahmad, 52, who has a background in finance, investment banking and share dealing, is arguing that his career as an entrepreneur had been going forward. His “malicious prosecution” meant he had been unable to work.

His claim relates to the loss of his reputation, career and earnings.

In the public apology to Mr Ahmad which emerged in June, 2021 James Wolffe QC admitted he and former Rangers chief executive Mr Green “should never have been prosecuted” in connection with the football club takeover.

It said: “Between 2015 and 2016, Mr Imran Ahmad and Mr Charles Green were prosecuted in the High Court concerning matters associated with Rangers Football Club.

“They should not have been prosecuted and, as Lord Advocate and head of the system for the prosecution of crime in Scotland, I have apologised unreservedly that they were.

“I made a statement to the Scottish Parliament following the settlement of two related cases, and I said at that time that there had been profound departures from normal practice.

“Lessons have been learned from what happened and the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has taken steps to prevent a similar situation arising in the future.

“I have given a commitment that there will be a judge-led inquiry into these matters once all relevant legal cases have concluded.

“The actions by Mr Ahmad and Mr Green continue with a view to settlement of their financial claims.”


Details of the malicious prosecutions scandal started emerging five years ago when the Herald revealed that London-based legal firm Holman Fenwick Willan, who were acting for Duff and Phelps, was awarded £500,000 costs after police and prosecutors were found by the High Court in London to have “abused state powers” by carrying out an illegal raid and seizing privileged documents in connection with the failed Rangers fraud case.

Mr Ahmad declined to comment on the case.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: ““The Lord Advocate apologised to Mr Ahmad at the earliest point that it was appropriate.

“Mr Ahmad’s compensation settlement must be supported by evidence of losses and this is currently part of a court process.

“The Crown is committed to public scrutiny of these cases and more information will be made available in due course. “Since the prosecutions which gave rise to these civil actions, the Crown has taken significant steps to safeguard against similar situations arising again. New arrangements for managing complex cases have been implemented and are now well established.”