Scottish Premier League

United set sights on Europe

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Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:46:00

A judge has ruled that former Rangers owner Craig Whyte gave "false" information to Ticketus regarding his director disqualification.

A 28-page judgement delivered at the Chancery Division of the High Court in London earlier this month, seen by Sky Sports News, found that Whyte had failed to disclose the ban to the firm.

Master Marsh awarded Ticketus ?17,683,338 in damages on 5 April 2013.

Whyte has told Sky Sports News that the judgement "is being appealed" and declined to comment further on the ruling.

The court heard, by 28 February 2011, and prior to the Rangers takeover, Mr Whyte had not completed a Directors' Questionnaire, or at least had not returned it, to Ross Bryan, an investment manager with Octopus Investment Limited, an FSA regulated fund management company responsible for sourcing, organising and managing investment opportunities on behalf of Ticketus.

Mr Bryan held discussions with Mr Whyte over season tickets between 2011/12 and 2014/15.

At 11.21 on 28 February 2011, Mr Bryan sent an email to Mr Whyte: "Craig - I don't have your director's questionnaire. Much of it would be n/a I imagine, but most relevant are: (a) Have you ever been disqualified as a director (b) Has a company you were involved with been investigated or inspected by the LSC, FSA or other financial regulatory body."

The court heard that at 15.03 the same day Mr Whyte replied to Mr Bryan: "I have attached the directors questionnaire. I'm not near a scanner right now so it's unsigned. Let me know if you need anything else."

The court heard how answers to two questions in the Director's Questionnaire were key to the case involving Ticketus.

Question 6.3 asked: "Have you at any time, in connection with the formation or management of a company, partnership or unincorporated association or business in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere, being accused of any fraud, deception, misfeasance, breach of trust or other misconduct of impropriety towards such a body or towards any members of such a body?

Question 6.6 asked: "Have you at any time been disqualified from working as director (or being involved in the management) of a company?"

The answer "No" appeared against each question but Mr Whyte admitted in the course of the proceedings that in, or about, 1998 claims had been brought against Mr Whyte by the liquidator of a company named Vital UK Limited for misfeasance, breach of duty and negligence, which claims were apparently subsequently settled for ?150,000.

Mr Whyte also admitted that in, or about, 1998, disqualification proceedings had been brought against Mr Whyte in which Mr Whyte had been accused of the misapplication of the assets of two companies to the detriment of their creditors and have failed to co-operate with the official investigations of the Official Receiver into one of those companies.

Mr Whyte admitted that in, or about, June 2000 he had been disqualified from acting as a director by order of the High Court for a period of seven years.

In his judgement, Master Marsh said: "The inescapable conclusion on the evidence is that Mr Whyte knew his answers to questions 6.3 and 6.6 were false. But, even if I am wrong about that, he was reckless about whether the answers were accurate, and provided them not caring whether they were true. Alternatively, he was negligent in failing to check the accuracy of the questionnaire before passing it on and has failed to discharge the evidential burden on him under section 2(1) of the Misrepresentation Act."

Mr Whyte denies having made a false representation, or representations, to Ticketus and told the court that the Director's Questionnaire was prepared by his solicitors and he did not check it before sending it to Mr Bryan. He says this was not surprising as he expected his solicitors to ensure it was accurate.

Mr Whyte claimed the Questionnaire was an unsigned "travelling draft" and as such he paid less attention to it than if it had been a final document. Mr Whyte says Ticketus failed to mitigate their position.

Master Marsh ruled: "There are two points that arise. First, I have concluded that the representations were fraudulent in this case. Secondly, even if that is wrong, it was simply impossible for Ticketus to check the accuracy of the answer to questions 6.3 and 6.6 in the Director's Questionnaire."

Master Marsh, who made the judgement, is a former partner of Collyer Bristow, the law firm who previously acted for Mr Whyte at the time of the Rangers takeover.

Marsh resigned from Collyer Bristow in February 2012 before his appointment as a Master of the High Court Chancery Division from 12 March 2012.

There is no suggestion that Marsh has been directly involved with Whyte and a spokeswoman for the judiciary said: "Master Marsh was a member of Collyer Bristow LLP until 28 February 2012, before he took up his post as Chancery Master. He was aware of a claim against Collyer Bristow and therefore raised his previous connection with Collyer Bristow LLP with the parties at the outset in case in case they felt he should recuse himself. All the parties, including Mr Whyte, were content for the judge to deal with the case. Master Marsh's former connection with Collyer Bristow LLP has no bearing on the case."

Smith has impressed with his versatility in six appearances for Latics, operating largely in his favoured midfield position but also slotting in at right-back.

Subject to Premier League and Football League approval, the 22-year-old will spend the final four games of the season at Boundary Park as Johnson's team fight to secure League One survival,

Meanwhile, Oldham youngster Dan Taylor will not play again this term after damaging his medial knee ligament in training.

Taylor signed following his release by Newcastle last summer and, although he has failed to nail down a regular first-team place, is the reserves' top scorer with nine goals in 13 competitive outings.

The 25-year-old midfielder collected his Clydesdale Bank Premier League Player of the month award on Monday, just 24 hours after McCall was revealed as the manager of the month.

The Steelmen went through March unbeaten with victories over Hearts, Dundee and Hibernian consolidating their second-placed position in the table.

Law's form has made him a target for Ibrox boss Ally McCoist who admitted that the Englishman is on his list of targets for next season.

However, Law, whose contract at Fir Park is up at the end of the season, worked under McCall at Sheffield United and on loan at Bradford and he revealed that telling him that he would be moving to Rotherham instead of Valley Parade was the most difficult moment of his career.

And Law would be reluctant to make a similar phone call this summer.

"I was at Bradford when he was there and I had the choice to stay," he said.

"The hardest thing I've had to do in my career was ringing the manager up and tell him I was going to sign for Rotherham, when I thought it would be a better move for me.

"It would certainly be as difficult to do that again because we have a really close working relationship.

"He has been such a huge help to me and helped my game on again in the two years I have been there.

"So he is the biggest thing I will be thinking about at the end of the season."

Law, who has scored six goals this season, added: "There has been no contact (from Rangers). I saw what their manager said but that was it, a link with a big club.

"I made the point at the time that I had nine big games to go and now we have five.

"What I will concentrate on is getting Motherwell to stay in second place and at the end of the season I will look at my options then and I certainly haven't ruled out staying either.

"I will have a good chat with the manager and I will certainly think about staying."

And Mackay-Steven wants United to now focus their efforts on securing European football instead.

The Tannadice side missed out on a place in the final after suffering a 4-3 defeat to Celtic after extra-time in the last four clash at Hampden yesterday.

But Mackay-Steven - who was on the scoresheet against the Hoops - insists there is still plenty of incentive to finish the season on a high with a Europa League place up for grabs for whoever claims third spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

The winger told Press Association Sport: "We've still got a lot to play for. We want to get as high up the table as possible and try to get a European place for next season.

"The cup tie is a bitter pill to swallow but we will dust ourselves down and we will be all right.

"The boys have got a great mentality. We will take a few days to reflect but when we go back into training we will be all right."

He added: "We have shown in this game that we've got lots of good ability in the squad.

"We've got a lot of good young players, like John Souttar and Ryan Gauld, who showed maturity beyond their years.

"That stands us in good stead and hopefully we can kick on in the next game against Motherwell. It's a big game for us and hopefully we can win it."

United fell behind with less than two minutes on the clock after Kris Commons struck for Celtic but the Taysiders hit back through Mackay-Steven and Jon Daly to take the lead.

The Hoops responded immediately through Victor Wanyama and Commons claimed his double before a second goal for Daly forced the tie into extra-time.

The striker was then denied by the woodwork before Anthony Stokes grabbed the winner for Celtic.

Mackay-Steven said: "It was really hard to take. After taking the tie to extra-time, we thought we had a great chance.

"We just needed one more goal. Jon Daly had a header that came back off the post and it was really unlucky.

"They went up the park and showed their class and got the fourth goal.

"We always believe in ourselves. We went a goal down early on and we didn't let it affect us.

"We just played our normal game and I think we played well. We just came up short at the end.

"A few of the boys were running on empty in extra-time, me included.

"It could have gone either way and the boys gave everything.

"We played well but so did Celtic and they came up with the goods in the end. It's just unfortunate for us."

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