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Police 'abused state power' in Rangers fraud case raid

High Court of Justice rules damages of £500,000 must be paid to London law firm after search.

By STV News

Published 19 Oct 2016.

Police and prosecutors "abused state power" in a raid during the inquiry into the allegedly fraudulent takeover of Rangers, a court has ruled.

The High Court of Justice has ruled costs must be paid to Holman Fenwick Willan LLP after Police Scotland and the Crown Office seized privileged documents not covered by a search warrant.

Lord Justice Gross ruled the warrant was of "excessive and unlawful width" and the raid could have been avoided if the legal company had been "forewarned".

Police "decided to proceed without giving notice to them", the judge found.

The ruling continues: "The search and seize operation was heavy handed and resulted in the seizure of both documents subject to LPP and irrelevant documents not covered by the warrant."

Charges against Paul Clark and David Whitehouse, the former administrators of the club who work for Duff and Phelps, were dropped earlier in 2016.

Craig Whyte is now the only person charged in relation to the takeover. A trial is expected to start in mid 2017.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "The Crown has taken careful note of the court's decision.

"It has taken steps, and will continue to take steps, along with the police and other reporting agencies, to ensure that the appropriate lessons are learned.

"Having regard to related criminal proceedings, it would not be appropriate to make any further comment at this time."

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the court's ruling and are working closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in relation to this matter.

"Due to ongoing legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter."