A FORMER Spurs chief executive who oversaw Sir Alan Sugar's takeover of the north London football club has been accused of a conflict of interest after it emerged he stood as an expert court witness for former Rangers administrators having previously worked closely with them.

David Buchler, who was a former vice chairman of Tottenham Hotspur and former chairman of Barnet FC and is a qualified accountant was accused of failing to divulge that he had had an involvement with both David Whitehouse and Paul Clark when making a substantive report defending their actions in dealing with the insolvency of the club.

Liquidators BDO which is suing Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark of Duff and Phelps for £56.8m over their handling of the Rangers insolvency objected to his involvement in the case - but his evidence has remained.

BDO have been claiming a seriously flawed strategy in raising money to reimburse thousands owed millions from the 2012 insolvency.

The 69-year-old executive has ended up admitting to the court that he has worked on a handful of insolvency cases with both men.

READ MORE: Rangers administrator admits inappropriate talks with Craig Whyte described as 'like lads in the pub'

In 1988, he launched Buchler Phillips which was acquired in 1999 by global consulting firm Kroll Inc after which he became their new chairman for Europe and Africa until 2003.

He was a director of Kroll Buchler Phillips, a leading corporate recovery and financial restructuring firm, between February, 2000 and December, 2002. When it changed its name to Kroll Limited, he remained as a director till September, 2003.

Kroll Buchler Phillips appointed Paul Clark as an appointment taking principal based in the London office in 2000.

Mr Whitehouse and Fraser Gray were joint receivers as partners at Kroll Buchler Phillips after contracts worth millions of pounds throughout Scotland were left unfinished at a construction company.

In November, 2002, 30 of the Construction Centre Group's workforce of 50 were made redundant by the joint receivers.

According to Companies House Mr Whitehouse and Mr Gray were directors of Retrodata which began trading in June, 1999 after buying the assets and debts of the insolvency and corporate recovery practice Buchler Phillips. The name of the company changed to Buchler Phillips Limited in June, 1999, and there was a further name change to Kroll Buchler Phillips Limited eight months later.

Both Mr Whitehouse and Mr Buchler were key players in dealing with the financial implosion of Bradford City FC when it entered administration in May, 2002.

The club was saved from possible extinction with their reported debts of £36m cut by 90% in a deal brokered by Kroll Buchler Phillips.

It allowed Bradford to be readmitted to the Football League.

HeraldScotland:

Mr Buchler has denied that his past involvement with both men was "inappropriate" or made him "conflicted".

BDO have argued that the administrators should have pressed forward with a break-up sale of Rangers assets and that there could have been a pursuit of a deal with fans to buy Ibrox and Murray Park separately.

The claim comes nine years after the Craig Whyte-controlled Rangers business fell into administration in February, 2012 and then into liquidation after he was at the helm for just nine months leaving thousands of unsecured creditors out of pocket to the tune of millions, including more than 6000 loyal fans who bought £7.7m worth of debenture seats at Ibrox.

READ MORE: Rangers administrator said a fans bid for the club would be 'akin to herding cats'

Mr Whitehouse and Clark are fighting the liquidators because they believe they should have conducted a "bonkers" strategy which would they say would have "effectively shut the club down for good".

The executive was tackled about his transparency over his links with Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark by BDO's QC, Kenny McBrearty who said he was aware of at least two joint [insolvency] appointments with Mr Whitehouse.

"Now, in a case in which you are being asked to offer a view on Mr Whitehouse's conduct as an appointee in an insolvency, did you not think it relevant to tell the court that you had previously act as acted as a joint appointee with him," Mr McBrearty asked.

Mr Buchler responded: "I would only say this, that you're talking about 20 years ago. Mr Whitehouse was in Manchester. I was based in London. There were often a need for joint appointees on specific cases. And as partners we would work together.

Mr McBrearty said: "You take my point, though, that being in partnership with somebody, there may be different levels of contact that one has with other partners depending upon the size of the partnership, the relationship with the partners, and so on.

"But if you've been a court appointed receiver with someone, that would seem directly relevant to the question of you opining on their conduct as an insolvency practitioner. What's your position? You just didn't remember that you took appointments with him? Or you didn't think it relevant to mention?"

Mr Buchler said: "I did think it was relevant to mention it and in fact it has been mentioned. But I don't think, under any circumstances, the work that I'm doing at this point in time can be conflicted as a result of an appointment, as a result of the fact that 20 years previously I was in partnership with either David Whitehouse or Paul Clark.

Mr Buchler did clarify the position in a supplementary report two months after his initial expert witness analysis of January, 2021.

In it he says: "For completeness, I wish to confirm that David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were formerly partners/colleagues in my firm Buchler Phillips, having joined the firm to set up its Manchester office in the late 1990s. However I have not had any business contact with Mr Whitehouse nor Mr Clark for over 20 years prior to my instruction in this matter."

Mr McBrearty QC for BDO, asked him why he had not divulged the information in his initial report.

HeraldScotland:

Mr Buchler said he could not remember and initially could not remember what prompted him to include the details in the supplementary report.

Mr McBrearty said that from the chronology of the lodging of documents in the case, Mr Buchler's original analysis came in January, and then in February, Mr Whitehouse lodged a statement which included a reference to his past partnership with the former Spurs executive.

He was asked again if he recalled what prompted hinm to divulge his links in the supplementary report.

Mr Buchler said: "No, I did not focus on David Whitehouse's report until March or April time."

Mr McBrearty said: " Were you asked to include something to this effect by those instructing you.

Mr Buchler responded: "I think I discussed it with the instructing lawyers, yes."

Mr McBrearty continued: "The first words that you use in the paragraph are 'for completeness'.

"I mean, forgive me but that suggests that that may be something you did not regard as being of particular significance but that you were including an order simply to complete the picture. Is that how you viewed this?"

Mr Buchler said: "I don't think I regarded it as conflicting at all, no.

Mr McBrearty added: "If I may just ask you and press you one more time, why didn't you include it in your first report."

Mr Buchler said: "There was no reason why I did or didn't include it in my first report."

BDO's QC asked if Mr Buchler agreed that in a situation where he was a joint appointee with Mr Whitehouse or Mr Clark, that he would be the more senior appointee, agreed.

Mr Buchler said: "I was chairman of the practice. So, in all of my cases, it was not unusual to have joint appointees."

Mr McBrearty then suggested being more senior than Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark, Mr Buchler would have been overseeing or passing on advice and assistance to the more junior appointees.

"That's more than likely," said the Mr Buchler.

Mr McBrearty said: "In a sense, you would have been to some extent at least mentoring David Whitehouse and Paul Clark on joint appointments."

Mr Buchler added: "I don't remember mentoring them, to be honest, they were individuals with their own views their own thoughts. I'm not sure mentoring is the right word."

Mr McBreaty asked: "Were you impressed by them?"

Mr Buchler said: "It is 18 to 20 years ago and my life has moved on in all sorts of different directions since then, Mr McBrearty. I'm not sure I'm able to say about whether I was particularly impressed or not particularly impressed. But they were good people.

Mr McBrearty went on: "When you say in your report that you have not had any business contact with them for over 20 years, what non business contact have you had then?"

Mr Buchler said: "Nothing."