Lord Willie Haughey, the high-profile businessman who helped save Celtic from going bust in the early 1990s, has flatly denied claims he was involved in an approach to invest in Rangers.

The former Celtic director, who came to the club’s aid with Fergus McCann when it was facing bankruptcy in 1994, has rejected claims from ex-Rangers owner Craig Whyte that he approached him about a deal to buy the Ibrox club after it had fallen into insolvency in 2012.

Lord Haughey, the Labour peer whose Glasgow-based City Facilities Management Holdings employs more than 12,000 people, told The Herald yesterday he “had to check to see whether it was Valentine’s Day or April Fool’s Day” when he heard the claim.

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He said: “I’ve got no idea [what the claim is based on]. I’ve never had a conversation with Craig Whyte in any way about buying one share in Rangers, or with anyone else about buying one share in Rangers. I think it is just Craig Whyte being Craig Whyte.”

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Lord Haughey said his lawyers have been in touch with the book’s publisher, Birlinn, to make clear his position.

He added: “The bottom line is I have never had a conversation with Craig Whyte about me or anybody else purchasing [Rangers].”

Asked to comment on the potential roots of Mr Whyte’s claim, Lord Haughey replied: “I’ve not got a clue. Put it this way, there’s three people in the story – me, him and Walter Smith and I’m sure if you speak to Walter, Walter will tell you there’s not a bit of truth in that.”

In his explosive new book, Into The Bear Pit, Mr Whyte details events that followed the club’s collapse into administration in February 2012, under his ownership, and then liquidation.

Mr Whyte, who bought Rangers from Sir David Murray for £1 in May 2011, notes that, following the appointment of BDO as liquidators, Charles Green was “now able to pay £5.5 million for the company’s assets – Ibrox Stadium, Murray Park and the Albion car park – which were to be transferred to a new company, which I believed was Sevco 5088.”

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Mr Whyte goes on to state: “Duff and Phelps (administrator) had announced that I stood to gain nothing from the liquidation as they had not considered me as a viable creditor.

“However, in the wider business community it was general knowledge that I was still involved. The businessman Willie Haughey called me, saying he was representing Walter Smith. “We want to take your deal out,” he said.

Mr Whyte goes on to claim he was prepared to sell for £20m. “They wanted to buy it for £5m,” Mr Whyte states. “I thought it was a cheeky offer.”

However, speaking to The Herald, Lord Haughey said he “didn’t give a second thought” to the fortunes of Rangers at that time. “I wasn’t thinking about it at all.”

He added it “has to be cleared up that I didn’t have any conversations with Craig Whyte about Rangers, about the ownership of Rangers”.

A spokesman for Lord Haughey said: “This nonsense is 100 per cent false and is now in the hands of Lord Haughey’s lawyers, who have written in the strongest terms to Birlinn, the book’s publisher and to Mr Whyte himself.”

When asked about the rejections of the claims in the book, Mr Whyte sought to clarify those claims, saying: “Just to make it clear, he [Lord Haughey] was not financing Walter Smith, he was not using Walter Smith as a front man, he did not want to buy Rangers himself.”

Lord Haughey invested £1m in Celtic and served as a director while the club rebuilt Celtic Park in the 1990s. He remains a shareholder in the club.

Together with Sir Tom Hunter, he stepped in to support the Scottish Football Association’s purchase of Hampden Park last year.