Trial begins of former Rangers owner Craig Whyte

Image caption,
Craig Whyte faces two charges at the High Court in Glasgow

Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte has gone on trial accused of a fraudulent acquisition of the club.

The 46-year-old faces two charges relating to the 2011 purchase, one of fraud and another under the Companies Act.

He has pleaded not guilty to both allegations.

Mr Whyte went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday after a jury of eight men and seven women was selected.

It is alleged that he pretended to then Rangers owner Sir David Murray, and others, that funds were available to make all required payments to acquire a "controlling and majority stake" in the club.

The funds included clearing an £18m bank debt, £2.8m for the "small tax case" liability, a £1.7m health-and-safety liability and £5m for the playing squad.

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 "which was held subject to an agreement or agreements being entered into between the club and Ticketus after said acquisition".

'Impartial member'

The second charge under the Companies Act centres on the £18m payment between Mr Whyte's Wavetower company and Rangers to clear a Bank of Scotland debt.

Mr Whyte is being represented by Donald Findlay QC, while Alex Prentice QC is leading the prosecution team.

After being picked, Judge Lady Stacey asked the jury to "consider matters" before evidence was to be heard in the case.

She said: "There has been some degree of publicity about Mr Whyte and Rangers - putting it at its broadest - over the last number of years.

"Do you know Mr Whyte? Do you know anyone personally who may be a witness?

"During May 2010 and May 2011 (time of charges), were you a shareholder, bond holder of season ticket holder of Rangers?

"Ask yourself is there any good reason why you cannot be an impartial member of this jury."

The judge also encouraged jurors to "put out of mind" anything they may have read or heard previously about the case.

After a short break, none of the men and women selected had to be excused.

The first witness is expected to give testimony on Friday when the trial continues.

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