CALLS have been made for a Scottish Government review after a court ruled police and prosecutors "abused state power" in a raid during an investigation into the allegedly fraudulent takeover of Rangers.

Lord Justice Gross and Mr Justice Mitting at the High Court has said costs must be paid to London-based law firm Holman Fenwick Willan after the court heard Police Scotland and the Lord Advocate seized privileged documents not covered by a search warrant.

Craig Whyte is the only person charged in relation to his 2011 takeover. A trial is expected to start in mid 2017.

HeraldScotland: Craig Whyte

Charges against Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, the joint administrators of the club who worked for Duff and Phelps, were dropped earlier this year. Charges against their Duff & Phelps colleague David Grier, and lawyer Gary Withey have also been thrown out.

The judges in a case that they described as "out of the norm" ruled the warrant was of "excessive and unlawful width" containing no provision for dealing lawfully with documents held that were subject to legal professional privilege (LPP).

Read more: Lost club Third Lanark plots return to professional football league

And they said the seizure could have been avoided if the law firm had been "forewarned".

The judges said Police Scotland and the Lord Advocate "should have known" that the law of Scotland and England and Wales required "special procedures" to be taken to ensure that documents which were the subject of professional privilege were not seized.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats now say the justice secretary should look into what happened "to understand why the events took place as they did which are very concerning to the general public".


Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur MSP said: “Police and prosecutors at the heart of a hugely high profile case seem to have been acting like a bull in a china shop. The fact that documents entirely unrelated to the case were seized is a huge concern. The judges’ finding that this was an abuse of state power is damning in the extreme.

“It is hard to think how this could look worse for the Police and the Crown Office. We need to get to the bottom of how this was allowed to come about.

The judges' costs order made last month says: "They (Police Scotland and Lord Advocate) were forewarned of this by the claimants before the warrant was obtained, but sought a warrant which contained no such protection."

Read more: Lost club Third Lanark plots return to professional football league

"The search and seize operation was heavy handed and resulted in the seizure of both documents subject to LPP and irrelevant documents not covered by the warrant.

"Taken in the round, which we are entitled to do, actions... were an abuse of state power."

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Crown has taken careful note of the court's decision.

"It has taken steps, and will continue to take steps, along with the police and other reporting agencies, to ensure that the appropriate lessons are learned.

"Having regard to related criminal proceedings, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this time."

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the court's ruling and are working closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in relation to this matter.

Read more: Lost club Third Lanark plots return to professional football league

"Due to ongoing legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "This is a matter for the Crown Office and Police Scotland."