Malicious arrests – David Whitehouse (left) and Paul Clark (right) have been promised a public apology over their treatment
BBC Scotland is reporting that the Crown Office has set aside £12.6m for losses and special payments, its latest accounts have revealed.
Scotland’s prosecution service said it was unable to say at this time what the provision was for.
But the Crown Office is facing multi-million-pound compensation pay-outs for wrongful arrests during a probe into fraud at Rangers Football Club.
The Crown has since said the arrests of David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were “malicious”.
It has agreed an out of court settlement with them after they launched a £20.8m claim for compensation.
The two men were appointed as administrators when the company which ran Rangers football club went into administration in 2012.
The pair were arrested in 2014 but lawyers acting for the Crown later admitted much of the prosecution against them was conducted without “probable cause”.
Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said “It is incumbent on the Crown Office to confirm the sums involved but the reality is it is likely to be tens of millions of pounds.
“This is a scandalous burden on the public purse at a time when they are so many other demands, not least the response to Covid.
“We need urgent answers to what has gone wrong here.”
The latest available Crown Office accounts are for 2019/20 and they state “we have recognised a £12.6m provision for losses which are anticipated to be paid in 2020-21”.
The line comes under the heading “Losses and Special Payments”.
By comparison, in 2018/19 the Crown Office paid £465,000 in special payments.
The Crown Office is also facing other compensation bids related to the botched probe into Craig Whyte’s takeover of Rangers, including a £5m claim from the club’s former administrator David Grier over his wrongful arrest.
The latest available accounts for watchdog body the Scottish Police Authority show that in 2018/19 the force estimated it faced potential legal claims “in the range £13m to £20m”.
Police Scotland would not be drawn on whether these estimates included the Rangers’ administrators claims.
A spokesman said: “We have reached an agreement to resolve this dispute and, as part of that agreement, will make no further comment.”
‘Supporting public understanding’
A spokesman for the Crown Office said it would not comment on the detail of the civil claims at this time as “these actions, and related actions, are not fully resolved”.
He added: “The lord advocate intends to make a statement to the Scottish Parliament when the actions raised by Mr Clark and Mr Whitehouse are concluded.
“A number of ongoing related court actions will restrict the scope of this statement.
“However, the lord advocate is committed to supporting public understanding of these cases and will provide as much information as he properly can.”
Rangers in action on the field against French club St Etienne.