Latest from Craig Whyte Trial

26 April 2017, 19:01

Craig Whyte

Sir David Murray has told a jury he would "categorically'' not have done a deal with Craig Whyte to buy Rangers if he thought the money to clear the club's debts was coming from future season-ticket sales.

The former Rangers owner told a court that "wasn't in the best interest of the club'' and said he believed the majority of the money for the acquisition was coming from Whyte's "own pocket''.

Sir David, 65, also insisted concerns about Rangers' financial situation before Whyte took over in 2011 had been "grossly exaggerated''.

The court was further told of an email from Sir David in which he warned the "fallout'' if there was no deal to buy the club would be ``really serious''.

Whyte, 46, is on trial at the High Court in Glasgow, where he denies acquiring the club fraudulently in May 2011.

Prosecutors allege Whyte pretended to Sir David, and others, that funds were available to make all required payments to acquire a ''controlling and majority stake'' in the club.

The Crown alleges Whyte had only #4 million available from two sources at the time but took out a £24 million loan from Ticketus against three years of future season ticket sales.

The court has heard how the club was sold to Whyte for #1, but that it came with "stipulations'' including the paying of an #18 million bank debt.

Sir David told the court he became aware there was, in the words of advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, a "Ticketus deal'' in 2012 - the year after Whyte's takeover.

Mr Prentice asked: "Had it been brought to your attention that the money ... came from Ticketus in the form of three years of season-ticket sales, what would your reaction have been?''

"Categorically, we would not have done the deal,'' Sir David told the court.

"Because it wasn't in the best interest of the club. It was selling the future and it then would have run out of resources in my opinion.''

The court heard earlier how Sir David, who bought his 85% stake in Rangers in 1988, put the club up for sale in 2007.

"I felt that my tenure had been long enough and I felt I needed a change and possibly the club needed a change,'' he said.

He told jurors the sale mattered to him and described how he withdrew at the last minute from a deal with one possible buyer over concerns about their plans for the future of the club.

Sir David stood down as club chairman for health reasons in 2009.

He told the court that, looking at the last years of his tenure, he believed claims of Rangers' financial woes had been ``grossly exaggerated''.

The witness spoke of having a meeting with Whyte in the south of France in 2010 after becoming aware of his interest in acquiring the club.

"Everything seemed okay at that time, I have to say,'' he said.

The witness said that deal ``would have been in the best interests of the club'' but added ``obviously it wasn't seen through''.

Jurors have been told the club went into administration some time after Whyte took over.

Sir David agreed it was important to him that the money for the sale to Whyte was available at the time of the transaction. He would not have done the deal if that had not been the case, he said.

He said he believed the majority of the money for the acquisition was coming from Whyte's "own pocket'' and that it was ``new money'' coming to the club.

During questioning by Whyte's QC Donald Findlay, the court heard how the share purchase agreement referred to the purchaser (Whyte's company) having funds ``immediately available from its own and third party resources''.

Mr Findlay also spoke of an email sent by Sir David about the takeover, which stated: ``The IC (independent committee) need to get this over the line or we will face the purchaser walking away and any hope of stability and future funding will be lost.

``Nothing is perfect but we do not have a viable alternative. We have tried for some time to attract a new buyer and now need to complete. The fallout of no deal is really serious.''

Whyte denies the two charges against him, one of fraud and another under the Companies Act.

The trial, before judge Lady Stacey, continues on Thursday.