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RBS wins court fight over £1m loan for city site

A JUDGE has granted Royal Bank of Scotland a summary decree against landowner David Booth to repay a £1.36million loan after agreeing that the bank's case was "unanswerable".

RBS loaned Mr Booth the money in 2007 to buy an Aberdeen site which he says is worth at least £1.5m, or £12m when developed. The bank's Global Restructuring Group valued the site at £750,000 in 2009 and called in the loan.

Catherine McColl, counsel for Mr Booth, told the Court of Session yesterday that Mr Booth's treatment should be "of grave concern to the bank's customers". It had diverted all his bank statements for four years to a banker at GRG, and though the loan conditions said repayment "should not be hindered" the bank had refused to allow Mr Booth either to refinance or to put the site on the market to raise the money.

David Thomson, counsel for RBS, said Mr Booth had been given "more than ample opportunity" to defend the claim. He cited the recent appeal court judgment in favour of RBS against bankrupt developer Derek Carlyle, though Lord Woolman noted that this had gone to the Supreme Court.

Lord Woolman said that given Mr Booth's averments it was "highly surprising" that he had not properly substantiated a defence or a counter-claim for damages in the three years since litigation began.

Mr Booth, who now faces sequestration, said afterwards that in the light of the Tomlinson report into bank lending practices RBS chief executive Ross McEwan should "stop the bank bringing cases to court when they know there is an alternative - which in this case was to allow me to sell the site".

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