Evidence produced by former Rangers’ owner Craig Whyte in a theft case against his former housekeepers may have been falsified, a court has heard.
Public Defenders Solicitors Office lawyer Eilidh Macdonald made the allegation during an intermediate diet of the case against her client, Terence Horan, who worked at Castle Grant in Moray for Mr Whyte.
Horan, 53, of Bicester in Oxfordshire, and his partner, 50-year-old Jane Hagan of the same address, appeared for the second time at Inverness Sheriff Court on Tuesday afternoon and adhered to their pleas of not guilty to stealing a huge array of items from Castle Grant between June 1 and September 7, 2012 where they worked.
Both are alleged to have stolen items including a quad bike, quantities of coins and Dutch guilders, a silver photograph frame, a hip flask and cups, three sets of cufflinks, a fuel card, a telescope and case.
They are also charged with stealing other items including three pens, two lamps, headed notepaper, five chairs and a table, a chest, a compass, two wooden bowls, a photograph album, a trunk, a planter, two jumpers, a bin, a wheel, two heaters, a bag of electrical items, ornaments and a clay trap.
The intermediate diet was called so Sheriff David Sutherland could receive an update on the progress of the prosecution and defence case for the trial which had been fixed for March 4, 2013. It is expected that Mr Whyte will be cited both as a prosecution and as a defence witness.
But Ms Macdonald told the court that she was seeking new dates to be fixed because of a problem with the Crown disclosing their evidence to the defence. She said: "There has been partial disclosure by the Crown and reference has been made to a letter which the complainer (Whyte) produced from a computer which is owned and operated by the accused and purporting to be from the accused.
"I have that computer in my office and there is a suggestion that the letter has been falsified. So the computer may have to be analysed. I have to get permission from the Scottish Legal Aid Board and then get an expert to do it, so we will not be ready to proceed to trial on March 4."
Fiscal depute Kevin Corrins confirmed that there was a letter listed as a production in the case but his office had not yet received it from the police. Sheriff Sutherland agreed to adjourn the trial and fixed new dates. A further intermediate diet will be held on May 14 and trial has now been set for June 10.
Hagan was represented by Inverness solicitor Willie Young and he confirmed he was in a similar position as Ms Macdonald. Neither accused, who had their bail continued, commented afterwards.
Last year law firm Harper Macleod raised bankruptcy proceedings against Mr Whyte over unpaid legal bills from when it represented him in separation proceedings from his estranged wife Kim. However, the petition was thrown out after the firm received payment from the former Rangers owner.
Mr Whyte, who bought an 85% stake in the Ibrox club from Sir David Murray for £1 last May, had also faced legal action from another firm, Bannatyne Kirkwood France and Co, that he had instructed to sue the BBC over a 2011 documentary. That case was settled before it came to Glasgow Sheriff Court.
Last February Rangers were plunged into administration with debts of up to £124m. Insolvency firm Duff and Phelps was appointed but was unable to secure the future of The Rangers Football Club plc through a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) in June, before the club’s assets were sold to a newco owned by a consortium led by Charles Green in a £5.5m deal.
The oldco has been placed into liquidation by neutral insolvency firm BDO, which was appointed at the insistence of the company’s largest creditor, HM Revenue and Customs.