THE BIG COURT story this week was not in Edinburgh but at the High Court in Glasgow, as the case against Craig Whyte continues. Mr Whyte is accused of fraudulently acquiring a controlling interest in Rangers football club, a charge he denies. Since the case began last week, the courtroom has seen a parade of well-known faces from the club’s history, including former manager Walter Smith, former player and manager Ally McCoist and former owner Sir David Murray. In the last few days Murray’s sale of the club to Whyte – for £1 – has been under particular scrutiny. Cross examined by Craig Whyte’s QC, Donald Finlay, Ian Shanks, a relationship director with Lloyd’s Banking Group PLC agreed that in 2010 the bank had given Sir David a year to sell off Rangers and pay of its debts, including an £18m overdraft. “That’s an incentive, surely, to get the deal done”, Mr Findlay asked Mr Shanks during his second day of evidence on Wednesday. “I agree”, Mr Shanks replied. The Crown alleges Mr Whyte had only £4m available from two sources at the time but took out a £24m loan from Ticketus against three years of future season ticket sales. It is just one of a number of cases taken in relation to Rangers since the club went into liquidation. As evidence of this, take, for example, @rangerstaxcase Twitter account (24.9 thousand followers, member since 2011) and other online presences, many of them specialising in that particular mixture of gallows humour and apocalyptic outrage so popular with the Scottish football fan. The case continues.
THURSDAY SAW THE FIRST of a number of elections that are set to arrive in quick succession in the following days and weeks, with the local council elections taking place in Scotland, England and Wales. Around the Signet Library there was a degree of ceremony, not over these elections but rather the Queen’s parliamentary proclamation for the general election. This event marks the traditional official announcement in the Royal Mile of the upcoming general election. Crowds gathered behind barriers to watch the military band and other officials in the ceremonial procession. As ever, the Signet Library had its part to play in this, with the party changing into their magnificent ceremonial robes in the Lower Library before processing out into Parliament Square.
THERE WAS a slightly lower-key procession through Parliament Hall on Tuesday with another swearing in of a new judge in the Court of Session, Paul Andrew Arthurson QC, now Lord Arthurson. As usual all the leading members of the College of Justice were in place in court to witness the ceremony, and, unlike the previous week, the pen used to sign the parchment was checked before it came time to sign to ensure there were no hitches this time. (It worked perfectly.)
ON THURSDAY REPORTS reports from the US that the controversial Attorney General Jeff Sessions had successfully prosecuted a woman for laughing at him seemed too extraordinary to be true... but, what do you know? It is true. The case dates back to the senate hearings confirming Sessions’ appointment as Attorney General when a 61 year old female activist named Desiree Fairooz was escorted from the committee room for laughing when Session was described as “treating all Americans fairly under the law”. (Sessions was denied a federal judgeship in 1986 due to his long history of racially charged remarks.) Convicted this week by a jury of “disorderly and disruptive conduct” Ms. Fairooz could face a year in prison. President Trump meanwhile is currently facing multiple lawsuits accusing him of inciting violence against protestors at his rallies during last year’s elections. It remains to be seen what the long term legal repercussions of all these cases will have on the long standing right to protest in America.
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