What do Joanna Lumley, Prince Albert of Monaco, a parody Rangers fan called Sammy Paterson, and a porn star called Paul Baxendale-Walker with a penchant for dressing up as the Joker in his on-camera appearances all have in common? If the BBC’s Mark Daly is to be believed, they all play a role in the downfall of the Ibrox giants, possibly with the exception of Paterson. Whose origins may well be as dubious as the rest of Pacific Quay’s production about ‘the Men Who Sold the Jerseys’.
|This chap is gaining infamy among Rangers supporters.|
With Charles Green’s consortium’s attempt to seize control of Rangers currently participating in the due diligence period of exclusivity it enjoys as legally-bound chosen bid, it has all been a bit quiet down Govan way of late. With a lack of negative headlines following the failure of the appeal against the transfer embargo imposed by the SFA on the 16th of May, it really has been rather a deafening silence regarding the club. Only a small titbit regarding Dave King’s claim to first refusal on Whyte’s shares emerged on the 20th, but otherwise the motto ‘no news is good news’ may well have been apt.
That certainly changed when BBC Scotland broadcast their latest piece of ‘investigative journalism’ on Wednesday 23rd May when the intrepid ‘investigations correspondent’ Mark Daly fronted the latest chapter in the Beeb’s ‘search for the truth’ regarding Rangers and their financial affairs. It is of course an absolutely valid subject for investigation, given the stricken nature of being ruled by the bank, before being bought for one symbolic pound which led to the plunge into administration. No one of even the most devout bluenose persuasion would ever pretend all is rosy behind the scenes and that those responsible for running the club have always played by the strictest of rules.
When the original Craig Whyte expose was broadcast in October, while its presentation was not of the highest credibility, it made for uncomfortable viewing and raised serious questions about Whyte’s past. Most fans publicly debunked it at the time but privately wondered just how murky Whyte’s previous history had been. Eventually the programme was more or less justified, and Whyte has been exposed as something of a vulture whose true origins were never truly revealed – his lies about investing £5M a season on players emerged before the show even aired, given his claim that the club had spent that sum during the transfer window, a claim patently untrue. Since administration, his shady nature has been plastered all over the press to the point revealing he withheld PAYE and VAT from HMRC.
|I’m always loathe to publishing pictures of this man.|
So with ‘the Men Who Sold the Jerseys’ there was serious potential for worrying revelations to surface again. The pre-show hype centred around scandalous evidence proving the existence of dual contracts, which break fundamental SPL rules. It also claimed to prove Sir David Murray leeched over £6M from the EBT scheme, and that other staff, past and present, similarly benefited in illegitimate ways. There was also the apparently damning evidence which had Duff & Phelps in serious cahoots with Craig Whyte, pinpointing them as directly involved with the original takeover and subsequent knowledge of the immoral Ticketus scam.
A lot for Rangers fans to fear. The problem was when the show began, and its first interviewee/whistle-blower appeared. A man by the name of Paul Baxendale-Walker, a former lawyer now struck off, currently a tax consultant, who claims Craig Whyte among his clients, but who is better known as a porn star called ‘Jo-Kerr’ who has diddled Harley Quinn and Catwoman. He claimed he had originally proposed to Sir David Murray the infamous EBT scheme, but the tax case was not his responsibility. He likened the EBT scheme to a bus, claiming, under the sleaziest grin, that while he may have given the bus to Murray, he personally was not responsible for it being driven recklessly or crashed. Yes, this was the quality of metaphoric journalism this show was presenting.
|Walker doing what he does best.|
Daly, eager to get his teeth into Rangers’ heinous crimes, then appeared in front of a badly rendered digital ‘data-bank’ which presented all the staff down the years who have received illegal payments and the amounts. At least, that is what Daly claims. While this plethora of facts and figures were based on ‘documents provided to the BBC’, the fabled documents in question were never shown on camera. Plenty of alleged quotes from them, but the hard evidence remained elusive. He also seemed to feel that said staff members accused of these immoral practises who refused to make any comment on this had automatically proven their own personal guilt. Apparently refusal to participate in a programme destroying your former employer is a crime.
Next, overlooking Daly’s cringe worthy ‘acting’ and pieces to camera which defied credibility and made him look like he was addressing 3-year olds, was the quite absurd reference to Joanna Lumley. ‘Maybe a metal trader was not the type of title he needed to woo the likes of Joanna Lumley’ – this was based on a claim from Peter Stevenson, former merchant banker, that Sir David Murray had had a ‘crack’ at Joanna Lumley in his youth. Somehow this salacious claim made its way into a programme about the downfall of Rangers and Murray’s part in it. The message was clear – Sir David Murray bought Rangers to get his end away with an Avenger.
|You can see why Murray might have tried his luck, to be fair.|
It must not be forgotten that all the while, the programme would periodically cut away to the now-legendary Sammy Paterson giving his vital opinion on affairs. This man was being presented as a typical Rangers fan, portraying his pain and disgust at the state the club was in. At least, that is what the programme makers would claim. The truth is the close ups of Union Flags, his room being covered in almost garishly presented Rangers memorabilia, the repeated displays of his rings, and the Rangers tattoos all over his arms seemed to be a parody of ‘a big bad Ranjurrrr’ – a character from Only an Excuse who lives and breathes Rangers. This is not to dismiss us fans who really do live and breathe the club, but the way this chap was presented made a mockery of those supporters proud of their allegiances. If you are reading, Sammy, I am not personally attacking you, if you are genuine, just the rather stereotypical and manipulative way way you were presented on the programme.
|Sammy Paterson – could be genuine, could be fake. Certainly famous now.|
Moving on, and who should show up but a man who has never spoken out on camera previously. Appearing on camera with a slightly uncomfortable and forced grin, Andrew Ellis claimed to have been duped by Whyte, who had apparently informed him of a ‘super rich investor’. Ellis then delivered the knock-out blow. This super rich investor was in actual fact non other than Prince Albert of Monaco. Just when this programme had stretched credibility beyond breaking point, it pulled out the Black and Decker and twisted a little more. Daly then apparently called the Prince’s spokeswoman to investigate further, and claimed that her response was, via a dreadfully accented French voice-over, ‘His Royal Highness doesn’t know Craig Whyte. His Royal highness has never had the intention to invest in this club. Rangers FC’.
The laughter from the homes of most bears at this comedy could be heard on the moon.
|I know the club has always been aligned with the monarchy, but this is ridiculous.|
Up to this point, the show had been a ludicrous pack of conjecture, parody, comedy, and low budgeting. Zero hard evidence existed for any of its claims. Indeed, it was not until the display of a letter on 38 minutes (of a 58 minute programme) incriminating Whyte and his company Liberty Capital in relation to the takeover of Rangers that physical evidence was finally presented. The problem was the content was information widely known already so it revealed nothing. Apparently regurgitating old news via presentation of a letter confirming it constitutes ground breaking news and revelation.
The programme finally seemed to get somewhere when it began to attempt to incriminate administrators Duff & Phelps, claiming their partner, David Grier, had been directly involved with Craig Whyte’s takeover (and in turn suggested their knowledge of the Ticketus deal) – they attempted to prove this via dubious presentation of apparently printed emails incriminating Grier, and, in turn, Duff & Phelps. They even confirmed it all by showing a freeze frame of Grier in Whyte’s company on the day of the takeover. Daly stated Duff & Phelps had claimed Grier’s role had been limited. The problem is this shot did not prove this was not the case. It proved nothing.
And, at the end of the programme, that is mostly what we were left with. You see, the problem with ‘the Men Who Sold the Jerseys’ is that its own production values, lack of evidence and general conjecture (not to mention awful acting and narration) discredited a great deal of its content. It was strong on claims, but weak on real proof. The number of times Daly stated the BBC had learned, or had seen, or had in its possession this hard proof, but refused to show any of it on camera, except later on with a pointless letter and alleged emails, really weakened his investigation. There was arguably a case to answer in the case of the Duff & Phelps claims, hence they have threatened legal action, but the rest was poor.
All Rangers fans want the truth to come out, and for the club to move on from this sorry, sorry affair – we want those responsible to pay for their neglect and malevolent errors, but guttural productions like this will not help that happen.
As an aside, will Daly investigate the incredibly dubious tax scheme at the BBC whereby hundreds, maybe thousands of BBC employees are avoiding income tax (PAYE) by having their wages paid into ‘service companies’? At least 2 high earners are using this system, and hundreds more are allowed to make their own tax arrangements to skip paying. Furthermore will he investigate Celtic’s confirmation (to the BBC no less) that they also used EBT arrangements to pay Juninho all those years ago? Something which caused a tax liability (for this read BTC in Rangers’ case) which was apparently settled with HMRC, a similar outcome to which we are requiring? Will he take a look at this scheme and try to uncover dirt behind that too?