MISCARRIAGE of justice compensation payments made by the Scottish Government to 19 people over 10 years amount to just a third of the 'eye-watering' £33m payouts to those maliciously prosecuted in the failed Rangers fraud probe in just one year, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

Former SNP justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has raised concern and questions with Scotland's most senior law officer over the millions in damages payouts made to those maliciously prosecuted in the failed Rangers fraud probe as it could cost the public purse over £120m.

The Scottish Government has committed to an inquiry into the failings which has already led to around £33m million in damages and legal fees in the past year, with that figure estimated to potentially soar.

Official figures seen by the Herald on Sunday show that the amount already paid out to three people in the Rangers case is nearly three times the amount paid to 19 people in miscarriage of justice compensation over ten years.

READ MORE: Ex-Lord Advocate 'contests' £25m claim by Duff and Phelps over malicious Rangers fraud case

Between January 1, 2000 until March 31, 2019 the payouts to the 19 totalled £12.155m. Just £33,000 of that was paid out in the final two years.

In the five years to the end of 2020, just £376,987 in compensation was paid out to ten people who were wrongly convicted.

Mr MacAskill, who was justice secretary for seven years from 2007 is demanding answers on the compensation tariffs used to reach settlements in the Rangers case.

HeraldScotland: Kenny MacAskill ... proud tradition

Mr McAskill, a former defence agent who set up Edinburgh-based legal firm Erskine Macaskill and who is now deputy leader of the Alba Party said: "Personal injury cases in Scotland never attract damages such as that. The sums seem to me to exorbitant and it's public money."

He has referenced an English case in which three men who were charged with the murder of a private investigator were awarded a total of just £414,000 in damages after winning a malicious prosecution action against the Metropolitan police.

A high court judge in London ruled in 2019 that Jonathan Rees and Glenn Vian should each receive £155,000, and Garry Vian should get £104,000. A fourth man, a detective called Sid Fillery who worked on the first murder investigation and was accused of perverting the course of justice, won part of his claim. He left the Met in 1988.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb announced the sums after court of appeal findings in the men’s favour relating to malicious prosecution and misfeasance in public office.

The three, who were charged with murder in 2008 following the investigation into the alleged contract killing of Daniel Morgan in a pub car park, originally lost their damages claim in the high court, but then won on appeal The claimants appealed against a damages award seeking damages for distress, humiliation, anxiety and loss of liberty. They also sought aggravated and exemplary damages.

Among the beneficiaries of the wrongful prosecutions in the Rangers case were finance experts David Whitehouse and Paul Clark of multinational consultants Duff and Phelps who were arrested in 2014 after they were appointed administrators of the company that ran Rangers, which fell into administration in 2012.

They were among those pursued by police and the Crown amid recriminations over Craig Whyte’s 2011 Rangers takeover, and the club’s 2012 Sevco buyout from administration led by tycoon Charles Green.

HeraldScotland: Craig Whyte cannot be involved in Scottish football any more

Mr Whitehouse and Mr Clark settled out of court with the Crown Office in December to the tune of around £26.6m including cost with the Crown admitting a malicious prosecution.

Mr Green, whose Sevco consortium took over the club in June, 2012, also won a £6.4m payout after he and five others were charged with serious organised crime offences over the club acquisition.

Cases involving Duff and Phelps adviser David Grier, and Mr Green’s associate Imran Ahmad, are still ongoing.

In August, 2020 it was confirmed former Rangers director Imran Ahmad is to receive a public apology from the head of Scotland's prosecution service.

Mr Ahmad will also receive significant damages, and is pursuing an amount also believed to run to £50m, after he was wrongly prosecuted on fraud charges.

He was prosecuted in 2015 over the takeover of the Ibrox club in 2012 but all charges were dropped in 2018.

Court of Session judge Lord Tyre has also ruled that there was "no probable cause" to prosecute  David Grier, a Duff and Phelps executive who is also seeking £5m damages from the Lord Advocate and £9m from Police Scotland.

But Lord Tyre has said earlier this month that Mr Grier had not made out a case that there was malicious prosecution and no award was made, in a decision that is to be appealed.

HeraldScotland:

Duff and Phelps is also seeking £25 million for reputational damage.

Mr MacAskill said: "I don’t deny that damages follow the admission. I also accept that malicious prosecutions are rare. But what’s the tariff.

"The sums paid out are eye watering. Personal injury cases in Scotland never attract damages such as that. You’ll know that other areas such as defamation are likewise. Criminal injuries awards are pathetic in comparison.

"The public have a right to know how it was quantified and agreed upon. Any victim of crime will be gobsmacked."

In 1999, the Metropolitan Police Force announced a £50,000 out-of-court settlement to Winston Silcott, wrongly convicted of leading the murderous attack on Pc Keith Blakelock during the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot.

The father of three was beaten and hacked to death with a machete by a mob after he became separated from colleagues on Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north London.

In 1987 Mr Silcott, along with Mark Braithwaite and Engin Raghip, was convicted of the Pc's murder but all three were cleared in 1991 when their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal. At the time, Silcott received £17,000 in compensation.

Mr Silcott, who in 1999 was still in prison serving life for the murder of boxer Anthony Smith, was in the process of suing the Met for false imprisonment and malicious prosecution when the award was announced.

The alleged Rangers fraud investigation was launched against a backdrop of the controversial nature of Mr Whyte's nine-months in charge which ended with the club's business going into administration with debts soaring over £100m while the team ended up relegated to the bottom rung of the Scottish football pyramid.

Mr Whyte had agreed to take on Rangers' financial obligations, which included an £18m bank debt, a potential £72m 'big tax case' bill, a £2.8m "small tax case" liability, £1.7m for stadium repairs, £5m for players and £5m in working capital.

But he controversially helped fund his takeover by setting up a loan in advance from London-based investment firm Ticketus against rights to three to four years of future club season ticket sales in a bid to raise £24 million and pay off bank debt as part of a share purchase agreement with Sir David Murray.

Seven people were subjected to detention and criminal proceedings in relation to fraud allegations in the wake of Mr Whyte's disastrous purchase of Rangers and its subsequent sale before a judge dismissed all charges.

Five have been pursuing compensation complaints over either wrongful arrest or malicious prosecution against either Police Scotland, the Crown Office or both.

Gary Withey, the Collyer Bristow lawyer who advised Mr Whyte over the ill-fated takeover and was another who who faced fraud charges before they were dropped, passed away at his home near Woking, Surrey in 2019.

Mr Whyte, one of the seven, ended up being the last man standing in the fraud conspiracy case and was acquitted of taking over the club by fraud at the end of a seven-week trial four years ago.

A spokesperson for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The damages paid in this case reflect the circumstances of the pursuers as high-earning individuals.

“The settlements have been properly evidenced and quantified to compensate them for the losses they suffered.

“COPFS is committed to further public accountability and a process of inquiry once all litigation has concluded.”