February 14th 2012, Rangers Football Club goes into administration under the stewardship of owner Craig Whyte. The true extent of what he did at Rangers was still to be published, but it was the beginning of the end of the love-in that Rangers fans had with who they saw as one of them.
It only sunk into many, including some of his ardent supporters –in the guise of the Rangers fan group Vanguard Bears – what Craig Whyte was really about when he fled on a plane to London. Although there was always one who supported until the bitter end – blogger and self-confessed Rangers fans spokesperson Chris Graham. Not that his book would make you believe.
Now this period in time is well ahead of what this article is about. In fact, you can ignore all the claims of internet bampots, all the attacks and abuse taken from Rangers fans labelled the bampots obsessed and you can certainly ignore the work or lack thereof done by the mainstream media on Whyte until it was plain to see, unless you were of the blue persuasion.
So let’s start on the 18th November 2010, the date that the self-made millionaire aka Craig Whyte was reported in the national press to be on the verge of lodging a bid of £32 million to buy Rangers off Sir David Murray.
At the time a club insider stated: “David Murray has always said he would only sell Rangers to someone he could trust and who could take the club forward. Craig Whyte is that man. He is a Rangers fan with the club’s best interests at heart and the financial muscle to make this deal happen. The deal is in the early negotiation stages at the moment but I understand that David Murray has met Craig Whyte and been very impressed by his vision of the way ahead.”
With that news, we got down to the nitty-gritty of finding out as much information as we could about this millionaire who was intending to buy Rangers Football Club. Not because we were obsessed with Rangers, but because it is what should happen when a potential new owner comes in – you want to know what they are all about, how much their wealth is and anything else that crops up. That is what journalism is supposed to be now is it not?
After digging not that deep and referring to the national press also – we published our article later that day titled, The End is Nigh for Rangers’ ongoing takeover saga – or is it?
We highlighted what the national press was reporting: “a Venture Capitalist, whose business interests are worth around £1 billion. At the age of 19, he managed his own hire plant firm, and by the age of 26, he was chief executive and owner of Vital Holdings plc, a group of firms involved in everything from office cleaning to heavy plant hire.
“By 2000, he was living the life of luxury in Monaco, but returned to Scotland eight years later, splashing out £720,000 on Castle Grant in Moray.”
But what they failed to publish at that time and still failed to do months later – was the real truth about Craig Whyte and his background. I would ask every reader of this article to check out the article we are referring too and specifically, the section titled ‘What the Newspapers failed to Publicise’. This was published just over a year before the BBC Documentary on Whyte was aired by Mark Daly.
Hindsight is a wondrous thing so is the art of digging deep. Something the mainstream media with all their talents, budgets and staffing levels failed to do. So what does hindsight tell you about that section of what we found out back on the very day he came on the scene?
Jump forward to 18th March 2011 and we receive an email from our web hosting contact. Rather than publishing his full name, we shall call him Pete.
Pete emailed me stating: “I have been asked by the server owners to have you remove the attached article. To be honest this amounts to “remove it or be removed from the server”. So, you can say they are giving you a chance. It’s truly out of my hands, I have nothing to do with it, but know from the past the server folks will just delete the account.”
The attached article being our ‘The End is nigh for Rangers ongoing takeover saga or is it?’ piece mentioned earlier and published on the 18th November 2010. So four months after the publication of our article, our hosting company receives a letter from Carter Ruck demanding it’s removal:
Now the hosting company’s email was dated the 18th March 2011, but along with Pete’s email to me was also a letter which was addressed to myself from Carter Ruck dated the 8th March 2011.
However, what I find strange even to this day is why they sent the letter to a hotmail account – which had no links to nor was published on Scotzine at that time or any time for that matter. Why did they not just simply use the site’s contact page – which also had our email address listed. The same one we use to this day. You would think that a legal firm which is so experienced and professional would do that now wouldn’t you?
So I complied with the hosting company’s demands – at that stage – and took the article down, albeit made it private so no one could see it bar myself.
Jump to May 6th 2011 and we published a further article in regards to the background and history of Craig Whyte titled, ‘Craig not so Whyte.’ In fact, it was a rehash and update of our earlier article from November 2010. Between our first article in November and this second one, many others spent a considerable amount of time delving into Whyte’s past and thereafter up until the present day in fact.
We had bloggers and a few freelance journalists covering the story, we also had the Rangers Tax Case blog and presently we have Charlotte Fakes, who looked into Whyte and what he did at Rangers up until he fled the scene of the crime, so to speak.
Thanks to Charlotte Fakes, we received a number of emails attributed to Craig Whyte relating to Scotzine.
On the 6th March 2011, Whyte contacted a Ms Matthews at Carter Ruck to get our ‘article removed’. 12 days later Ms Matthews replies to Whyte stating: “As regards the Scotzine article, the Editor has not responded to our letter and it is still online. However, I have today written to UK Webhosting Ltd, the company which hosts Scotzine, demanding urgent removal of the article.”
The contact between Whyte and Matthews matches the date that we received the email from Pete, which was the first time we had actually heard of such a demand.
On the 25th March 2011, Matthews emailed Whyte back:
“As you will recall, earlier this month we wrote to Scotzine requesting removal of the article entitled: “The End is Nigh for Rangers’ ongoing takeover saga – or is it?” The letter was ignored. Therefore I wrote to the company hosting the material to tell them that if they did not remove it we would in law have the right to go after them. The article then came down.
“Just so that you are aware of it, we received the below irate email from the editor of Scotzine. As previously advised, it is a delicate balancing act between getting material removed and risking being branded heavy handed/ making journalistic enemies. Whilst I cannot obviously know whether Mr Muirhead intends to make trouble, we may want to keep a bit of an eye on Scotzine.
“Do let me know if you would like me to write back to Mr Muirhead in defence of your wholly legitimate complaint.
Safe to say I never received a reply to my irate email. Not from Craig Whyte and not from Carter Ruck either, another professional showing from the legal firm.
Jump a wee bit forward to 10th May 2011 [some four days after our Craig ‘not so’ Whyte article]and an email from Ian McKerron of Hay-McKerron Associates sent to Craig Whyte and with Gordon Hays cc’d mentioned us once more. The majority of the article was in reference to a Daily Telegraph article which had published information on Whyte’s past and was promptly removed after Hay-McKerron had contacted them. However the section that referenced Scotzine is below:
“On another front, we have come across a particularly aggressive and hostile website, Scotzine, run by a Celtic fanatic that has published similar stuff to the above. We have also been alerted to a guy in New York, Thomas Kelly Donnelly, Club Ambassador New York Celtic Supporters Club, who has been inciting a number of journalists to write defamatory articles about you.
“Having discussed it, and subject to what you and Athalie may think, we think it would do no harm to send both these critics a courteous but robust message to alert them to the fact that we are aware what they are doing and to warn them that legal action will be taken is they continue to publish slanderous material.”
A Celtic fanatic? I wonder if Hay-McKerron Associates could contact me [using our contact details listed on the site]to inform me what a Celtic fanatic is or what I did was fanatical? Oh aye and we never received any emails or messages from Hay-McKerron Associates either in relation to our Craig ‘not so’ Whyte piece. Wonder why that is?
I wonder what Hay-McKerron Associates would say now in regards to their comments over what has now transpired and is in the public eye. Slanderous? Nah lads the facts. Facts that Whyte, Carter Ruck and yourselves tried to erase from history.
Two days later, Whyte replied to McKerron stating:
“The guy at Scotzine is a Celtic fan who seems to enjoy writing defamatory articles about me. We got an article removed before by going to his hosting company who threatened to take his whole site down if he didn’t remove it. He then wrote to Carter Ruck and threatened to distribute physical copies of the article at Ibrox! The guy is an idiot but he certainly needs another warning.”
Aww how much do I feel appreciated, I am labelled an idiot by Craig Whyte of all people. I don’t know whether to cry or laugh at him labelling me an idiot. Anyone help me out with this?
Two wee issues with Whyte’s reply, firstly the articles were not defamatory they were factual and secondly I did not threaten to distribute physical copies of the article at Ibrox – I wouldn’t be that suicidal. I stated to Carter Ruck and I quote: “What would your company do if individuals managed to get copies of the papers and articles in question and photocopied them and handed them out around Ibrox?”
Those articles that Whyte managed to force newspapers, including the Daily Record, the Telegraph, Mirror and a few others, to delete from their digital archives relating to Whyte.
Again I received no warning, or did some idiot fail to press the send button?
Eye-opening indeed is it not, what the now disgraced owner of Rangers Football Club was peddling at the time towards ourselves and the factual articles we published. Helped by the likes of Hay-McKerron Associates and Carter Ruck. I wonder if they hold their heads in shame now? Or will they claim they were duped also like Sir David Murray? Or is it more of a case of ‘we were only doing our jobs’.
But wait, Hay-McKerron Associates and Carter Ruck were not the only ones to discuss Scotzine with Craig Whyte. Even the illustrious Jack Irvine sent an email to Whyte in relation to an article we titled ‘Rangers owner Craig Whyte meets with bigoted Vanguard Bears’.
The email was little more than the link to the article, accompanied by one sentence saying: “Hello hello – We are both bigoted bears.”
That saw Whyte comment, “Another Celtic fan…”, to which Irvine replied, “We could do with a Celtic scandal. Heard anything that might fill the bill?” with Whyte saying in return, “I’m sure we can dig up something!”
Those email in question took place on the 4th November 2011, and yet in February 2012 through the time that Rangers went into administration at the hands of Craig Whyte, Jack Irvine was being all nicey nice to me in email correspondences from the 11th February straight through to the 15th February 2012. How two-faced could you get eh?
So there you have the whole sordid episode surrounding our coverage of his history and background, and what Whyte and his PR company and legal firms were commenting on in return. I think I shall be walking with my head a little higher today after seeing their comments then and what we know today.
Jump to 12th June 2013, hindsight is truly a wonderous thing – were we slanderous, were we defamatory? I think not.
I shall round this article off by quoting the Vanguard Bears in an exclusive interview they conducted with Craig Whyte, just a week or so before Rangers went into administration, as they were faithful through and through to the end:
“Once again our thanks go to Craig Whyte and to Jim Hannah for giving up almost 2 hours of their time and their willingness to engage with the support and we look forward to working with them again for the good of Rangers FC.”
Published in Scotzine on July 18th 2011