Paul Murray-The Rangers Standard Interview Part 2
- 10 January 2013
Rangers' former director Paul Murray has echoed the words of Alastair Johnston and called for BDO to fully investigate the role of Lloyds Banking Group, Donald Muir, David Grier and others in the sale of the club to Craig Whyte and subsequent liquidation of the company running the club. In an in-depth interview with The Rangers Standard, he has also called into question whether David Murray was indeed duped into selling to Craig Whyte or was just pressured by the bank into doing so.
In an interview with Peter Smith on STV just before the end of last year, Alastair Johnston called the sale of the club a "heinous crime" and stated that Craig Whyte was "addicted to lying and cheating" and "candidly was a chancer". He also went on record as saying he feels that "Lloyds Bank had some responsibility" in the sale of the club to Whyte and that the "source of funding was something any bank should have known".
It is clear there is a strong feeling from those who were on the board at the time of the sale that they were excluded from the process and that despite raising concerns the sale was pushed through in line with outside interests.
On the involvement of Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), Paul Murray said the following:
"What you are dealing with is a totally dispassionate London centric bank, who might say they are interested in Scotland, but Scotland is a very small part of their business. It was quite clear they wanted out of Scottish football."
Murray feels the involvement of so many competing interests within the club made the board a difficult place in which to operate.
"It was quite a strange board because you had Donald Muir and Mike McGill effectively as LBG and David Murray representatives. You had people like myself, John McClelland and John Grieg, you had Dave King in a slightly different camp as a non-executive director as well as a significant shareholder, then you had Martin Bain and Donald McIntyre as executive directors. I said at a number of meetings, "this board is dysfunctional". I stand by that. You had conflicting views and in any organisation you have to have a sense of purpose.
The other thing I found quite frustrating about the board structure was that Donald Muir and Mike McGill essentially kept quite a lot of things to themselves. They didn't always share details with their fellow directors. You were always one step removed from the bank. Donald Muir and Mike were managing that relationship."
Murray also states that the role of Donald Muir was consistently downplayed but that LBG were effectively running the club.
"Donald Muir used to always claim he was not a bank representative but it was quite clear to me that he was a representative looking after the bank's interests, and the bank is entitled to do that, but if you are going to do that then have the decency to do it publicly, don't try to hide in the shadows and manage the club but take no responsibility for what is going to happen. You can't have ownership without responsibility.
When Walter Smith made the comment, "the bank is running the club", that was the case. The bank were very much directing operations saying "we want you to do this; we want you to do that". If you take those actions you have to have the responsibility of standing behind them. They very much hid behind the scenes. They were constantly squeezing the club and I think they should have been more open about that."
When asked if David Murray was duped by Craig Whyte, as he has said publicly he was, Paul Murray has a different view.
"There is no question that the bank pressurised David Murray into selling the club. The pressure was very much coming from the bank. I am of the opinion that Craig Whyte could not in a month of Sunday's dupe David Murray.
Was David Murray duped? In my opinion he was not duped but I don't think he knew about Ticketus. I don't think David Murray or even Mike McGill knew that he (Whyte) had sold the season tickets because I don't think David would have sold the club to him."
Paul Murray confirmed that a report had been given to David Murray which, despite not explicitly making any serious allegations against Craig Whyte, painted a less than flattering picture.
"The report wasn't commissioned by the board but by someone who had the club's interests at heart. That was presented to Alastair Johnston round about March before the club was bought in May. It was shared with the rest of the board and was presented, by Martin Bain, to David Murray.
The report is about 15 pages long and it just shows a picture of quite small time business, no real financial substance, lots of dormant companies. Nothing that was suggesting he had done anything really bad, just a picture of low level, ducking and diving and a few things in Monaco where he had been accused of not paying rent etc. but a lot of it hearsay.
When I got the report I just thought to myself, surely the club can do better than this. I just felt, what is this guy going to do to take the club forward? We just couldn't find out anything of any real substance. We were asking Donald (Muir) and Mike (McGill) what have you checked and we were told "don't worry it's all coming through", but we were kept at arm's length."
So what of his own impressions of Whyte?
"It was 31st March that we met him for the first time. People think I don't like Craig Whyte but I've got nothing personal against him, he was a perfectly civil guy, but it was clear to me that there was no substance. I was asking questions about companies he had been involved in and it was all very vague, no specifics.
In the early part of April, Donald (Muir) and Mike (McGill) then started showing us detail of the deal and myself and Donald McIntyre were asked to help Craig Whyte's team with the cash flow for the club. I went to a meeting with Phil Betts and Whyte's advisors and they were completely disinterested in the future. It told me these guys were preparing for something else."
So who does Paul Murray feel has questions to answer over what happened to the club?
"I think Donald Muir's role needs to be fully examined, I've spent a good deal of time with BDO and I am really challenging them to have a full investigation of everyone's actions, including my own. I think Donald Muir's conduct has to be looked at quite closely, in particular his relationship with David Grier.
I think BDO should look at the conduct of the football governing bodies as well. They did certain things which have to be examined. Were the punishments properly administered, were they premature in being applied before we knew the full extent of what Rangers had done or hadn't done? The consequences of those actions were quite severe. Apart from reputation, a lot of money has been lost. Ten of millions of pounds worth of players have gone, the club has lost commercial revenue and I do think the football governing bodies have to be held to account.
BDO are going to examine everything. They will probably take a two or three year time line and look at the whole thing. The actions of the old board, LBG, Donald Muir, Murray International Holdings, Craig Whyte, Ticketus, Collyer Bristow then into Duff & Phelps , David Grier and the actions of the football governing bodies.
If the original judgement of the FTT is upheld then essentially the old company had been put into liquidation for nothing. It's been a victim of a series of actions by different people at different times which has led to liquidation. The club has been damaged and there has to be legal recourse and people brought to account."-
We can only hope that BDO will carry out the thorough investigation that Paul Murray expects and that the roles of those named here will be fully examined. It will take time but there should be no dark corner of this mess on which light is not shone.