The sheriff who granted an unlawful warrant during the botched police operation into the sale of assets from the old Rangers FC is going to be investigated after claims that his “vociferous” support for the club compromised his impartiality….
The expensive can of worms opened after the Duff and Phelps compensation scandal, following the ‘malicious prosecutions’ of David Grier, David Whitehouse and Paul Clark, has taken another twist, with the Sheriff who issued multiple warrant in the case now becoming the subject of a formal complaint.
Craig Turnbull, Sheriff Principal of Glasgow and Strathkelvin is reported to be investigating a formal complaint made against Sheriff Lindsay Wood – the man who issued more than 20 warrants during the failed police inquiry into the Rangers debacle.
Sheriff Wood has been accused of a ‘glaring conflict of interest’, with The (London) Times reporting:
‘Concern has been raised over the role that Sheriff Lindsay Wood played in the ill-fated investigation into allegations of fraud linked to the collapse and sale of the Ibrox club.
Wood regularly appears at Rangers matches and social events and was said to have a framed photograph of the club’s stadium in his chambers. It is understood that a formal complaint made against him is being investigated by Craig Turnbull, Sheriff Principal of Glasgow and Strathkelvin.’
David Grier, David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were part of the consultancy firm Duff and Phelps who were appointed to manage Rangers’ affairs after the financial collapse of the club, and all three were arrested before eventually being cleared of all charges, but not before a great deal of expense – in the tens of millions – had been foisted upon the taxpaying public, after a public inquiry saw compensation paid to those who were deemed to have been prosecuted maliciously.
Earlier in the year it was claimed Sheriff Wood had held shares in Rangers FC (now in liquidation) – which then became worth diddly squat after the club eventually went bust.
The Times report states –
‘Records from 2008 confirm that he owned 110 shares. Between 2013 and 2015 Wood signed 22 warrants during the botched investigation. They included one that allowed officers to raid the London offices of Holman Fenwick Willan, the legal firm representing Duff & Phelps, which was later found to be unlawful and executed “without proper safeguards”.
The raid was requested by Detective Chief Inspector Jim Robertson, the senior investigating officer, who is said to have worn Rangers cufflinks while conducting interviews.
‘In a statement in 2019, Robertson confirmed that he had met Wood on December 4, 2015, noting that the sheriff had “dealt with a number of the warrants sought in the case”. Robertson said: “Sheriff Wood was interested in the case. He told us that he was a season ticket-holder at Ibrox and had a framed picture of Ibrox on the walls of his chamber.”‘
It’s also been reported that Christina Herriot, Wood’s court manager – but who has no role to play in any judicial decision making – also wrote on social media about her love of the Ibrox club as well as an aversion to Duff and Phelps.
David Grier one of those found to have been maliciously prosecuted was reported as saying:
“I can confirm that my complaint to the Judicial Office of Scotland has been accepted. They have informed me that sheriff principal Turnbull has been appointed to look into it. I look forward to hearing the outcome of his investigation.”
It is Grier’s legal team’s contention that Wood gave both contradictory and misleading statements in two reports submitted explaining himself to to Lord Galloway the lord justice general, with the second of those alleged as being “more or less identical” to a warrant Detective Chief Inspector Jim Robertson, the senior investigating officer, had previously submitted.
Answers on this matter have previously been demanded by the conservative party’s Russell Findlay – spokesman on community safety – as to why Wood given the apparent conflict of interest had failed to excuse himself with the Times reporting Findlay as saying:
“This represents a glaring judicial conflict of interest in the Rangers malicious prosecution scandal. It seems there was a perfect storm of a Rangers-supporting police officer, a Rangers-supporting sheriff and Crown Office ce prosecutors who pursued innocent men with reckless disregard for the evidence, leaving taxpayers with a bill for tens of millions of pounds.”
After all the code of Scottish judicial ethics is quite clear in such matters when it states it is not acceptable for a judge to adjudicate where they have a financial interest. An example of such an interest might be the holding of shares in a public company.
This scandal, which has cost the taxpayer tens of millions, will now be fully investigated that’s for sure. And it sure isn’t looking good for the blue-noses involved.
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