Another “Liar” Steps Forward
03/05/2011 214 Comments
This morning, the Daily Record carried an interview with Rangers director, Paul Murray. There must be something in the Perrier served in the Ibrox boardroom as Murray seems to have the same tenuous grasp of the truth as his namesake in Charlotte Square.
In his effort to undermine Craig Whyte’s efforts to buy Rangers, Paul Murray has come forward to speak on-the-record about Whyte’s bid and his own alternative “offering”. Firstly, I would like to draw attention to the fact that a Rangers director is actually speaking on-the-record. For 18 months, the Scottish media pack has led us to believe that such an act would be such an egregious violation of “stock exchange” rules that US Navy SEALs can be expected to ‘fastrope’ from Blackhawks and ‘double-tap’ him. Surely, it is not possible to speak openly on such matters?
Of course it is possible. It happens in every takeover and is not in any way illegal. Whyte can also speak on-the-record. As a registered “potential bidder” his only restrictions are that he needs to ensure that all shareholders could reasonably have received the information at the same time (i.e. a press release through a website) and that what he says becomes legally binding if he later makes an offer: so he had better tell the truth. The Rangers Board are also free to comment and are only subject to similar minor restrictions. So the talking-heads on Radio Clyde and Radio Scotland need to stop repeating the lie that no one can speak without breaking the some imaginary law. (Of course, Whyte, David Murray, and almost every other player in this farce has been leaking like sieves to the media. That is a breach of the Takeover Code!)
However, it is Paul Murray’s interview with the Daily Record’s notorious James Traynor that got me exercised today. Let us assume that Traynor has faithfully recorded Murray’s actual statements and intent.
Misleading statement No 1:
“Lloyds would be paid off in full with a cheque for £18m and Whyte would also have to pick up the tab should Rangers lose their fight with HMRC.” (To be fair, this is Traynor’s interpretation and does not include a direct quote).
The implication here is that Whyte would take on a personal responsibility for the tax bill. The tax assessments are addressed to “The Rangers Football Club plc” and it is Rangers FC that has been appealing these tax assessments for over two weeks in a First Tier Tribunal meeting daily in Edinburgh. Corporations are treated as ‘legal persons’. The shareholders of a business are not liable for the debts of the businesses they own (except in rare cases). What Paul Murray / Traynor should have said is that “Rangers will be left with responsibility for the tax bill should Whyte take over“. Traynor does say later: “Secondly, he is extremely concerned that Rangers are to be fully exposed to an adverse outcome from the HMRC tribunal because the club will still carry the responsibility for any liability after the deal has been completed.“ Note the words “still carry”.
Misleading statement No 2:
“But crucially, and I believe fairly, any liability arising from an adverse tax ruling would rest with the Murray Group/Lloyds Banking Group.”
This quote can be taken a few ways. It could be misread as meaning that currently the responsibility for the tax bill rests with the Murray Group or Lloyds Banking Group. We know that this is not true. Perhaps most worryingly for Rangers fans is if a member of the current board is naive enough to believe that two organisations which currently have no liability for Rangers’ tax bill will simply volunteer to pay this bill. If this is the best he can come up with, Rangers are in very serious trouble indeed. His plans for investing cash now while the tax bill looms is madness. I cannot imagine that this is a serious plan from a serious man. It looks like yet another Rangers director playing to the cheap seats and trying to protect his reputation for when the axe falls. (See Alastair Johnston’s admissions of 1 April for his own efforts and Martin Bain’s pandering to the worst elements of the Rangers support while bleating about conspiracies).
Would it be wrong to call Paul Murray a liar? He is most certainly intentionally misleading Rangers’ supporters and shareholders. If he does not issue a statement clarifying both of the misleading statements at the core of the article, then we can only assume that Traynor captured Paul Murray’s words and meaning correctly. If Paul Murray is content to leave this article uncorrected, he would have no defence against the charge that he is allowing false impressions to be left. Scots Law requires that there be a pattern of lying before someone can be called a ‘liar’, but it will not take too many more misleading statements before the word “liar” could be attached to Paul Murray.
What will it take for an honest man to come forward and level with Rangers’ supporters about what has happened and the seriousness of their situation? When will a sufficiently wealthy man step forward who can absorb the £78m (£18m to Llloyds + £60m HMRC) that it could take to simply buy Rangers and cover the maximum tax bills? Rangers fans need to understand the criticality of their situation to organise a rescue from insolvency. The lies copied and pasted by the “Laptop Loyal” trying to curry favour with their favourite Rangers director or wannabe-owner have retarded the process of accepting the seriousness of the club’s problems. If Rangers Football Club dies as a result of its current problems, Scotland’s journalists who claim to love the club will bear almost as much blame as the directors who presided over conscious, intentional tax fraud.