He is a Privy Counsellor so his opinion is good enough for the Queen. He was schooled at Eton before studying classics at Balliol College, Oxford.
Charles Flint QC is one of the most respected experts in sports law in Britain, having acted as an advisor and an arbitrator in a series of complex and high-profile cases. Nicholas Stewart QC has been a Deputy High Court Judge in England for over two decades. He, too, is an internationally renowned authority on sports law and arbitration.
Fair play, then, to whoever it was at the Scottish Premier League who had the nerve to tell his Lordship and the QCs that their time will be deliberately wasted during the Rangers/undisclosed payments hearings because the whole thing has been decided in advance. Guilty verdict and penalties: all done and dusted, pre-judged by the SPL itself before Nimmo Smith does what he's told and puts it in writing. That's how the conspiracy theory goes, at least. Lord Nimmo Smith, Flint and Stewart – among the finest legal minds in Britain – are at the head of the SPL's "Mickey Mouse" investigation (Charles Green's words) and its "kangaroo court" (Sir David Murray).
Sadly, neither Green nor Murray will say so to their faces, because neither of them will turn up when the Independent Commission gets down to business in November. That's a shame, because the accusations are serious and ought to be taken seriously by all.
Rangers, and Murray, should protest their innocence as long and loud as they like, as anyone would when faced with significant accusations. By not attending, no-one acting for the club can cross-examine witnesses or present a different interpretation on evidence which is heard. Instead of simply maintaining that they can comfortably defend themselves on all counts, there have been consistent attempts to undermine the credibility and motives of the investigation itself.
The allegations against them weren't trumped up by an outsider: they originate from a former Rangers director, Hugh Adam. They are innocent unless proven guilty and are entitled to a fair and honest investigation by the SPL. After Adam's allegations, evidence to suggest they had a case to answer was collected by the SPL's lawyers, and a verdict will be reached and any punishment applied by an eminent judge and two QCs. At no point is any other club involved in the process.
This isn't an investigation into using EBTs, remember, it's a probe into specific allegations of SPL rule-breaking. It began with a statement on March 5 which said: "The SPL board has instructed an investigation into the alleged non-disclosure to the SPL of payments made by or on behalf of Rangers FC to players since July 1 1998." Adam said of the alleged payments: "They weren't included in the contracts. That was the whole point of them."
Now, either you believe Adam's version of events or you don't, but were the SPL supposed to ignore that? The initial investigation to find evidence substantiating Adam's claims was carried out by Harper Macleod, the law firm which has acted for years as the SPL's retained lawyers (and therefore represented Rangers, as an SPL shareholder, too). This has angered many Rangers supporters because Harper Macleod have also worked for Celtic, who would be the primary beneficiaries of any potential stripping of Rangers' titles. Should the SPL have used another law firm to avoid all accusations of conflict of interest? Maybe, but what exactly is the innuendo here: that an established and respected company which is a member of the Law Society of Scotland would fabricate or suppress evidence in a football investigation? Seriously?
Green has said: "The commission is not independent of the SPL. It has been appointed by the SPL. I don't question the impartiality of the individual panel members but whatever decision they reach is a decision of the SPL." Well, yes, of course it is. But if there is no question of their impartiality, that is all an accused can ask for.
This investigation has not "pre-judged" Rangers nor, despite all the fevered debate about it, have they been condemned to being stripped of titles. They may be cleared just as they might not. Any punishment imposed on them could have nothing to do with titles being taken away. No-one can possibly know how Nimmo Smith, Flint and Stewart will rule on the case.
Ralph Topping, the SPL chairman, has been predictably mute and invisible while his league's investigation has been ridiculed, and given the sensitivities there should have been far more transparency and detail about why Rangers are being pursued over EBT payments while Celtic were not after using one to pay Juninho.
But the fact remains: Rangers alone face a major investigation because they are the only SPL club accused of making widespread undisclosed payments. And the accusation was made by one of their own.
It's worth noting that so far Jordan Rhodes has spent his career only in the English lower leagues and even 40 goals in 45 appearances for Huddersfield Town did not land him a move to the Barclays Premier League. Craig Levein can legitimately use that as evidence that he is not the only one with doubts about the 22-year-old.
But Rhodes gives Scotland fans hope and excitement when so much else is depressing. Right now he's one of very few names who could help shift tickets for Scotland games. Levein's unfortunate remark about him being "way overhyped" doubtless wasn't meant to sound disparaging to a player this country needs, but it did.
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