Whyte's 'false' Ticketus claim
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."