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Keith Jackson admits ‘I was duped’ as Craig Whyte reveals the secrets of the Daily Record

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Image for Keith Jackson admits ‘I was duped’ as Craig Whyte reveals the secrets of the Daily Record

Ahead of the publication of Craig Whyte’s book ‘Into The Bear Pit’ Keith Jackson has explained his role in the demise of Rangers with his name forever associated with the phrase that the future owner of the club had ‘wealth off the radar’.

In November 2010 a number of news outlets broke the story of a £30m takeover of the financially stricken club led by what was described as a billionaire from Motherwell.

From Tom Hunter to Tom Farmer via Brian Souter and Ann Gloag the richest people in Scotland are already well known.

Willie Haughey has ‘a right few bob’ but no one has ever described him as a billionaire but with Dave Murray preparing to step down it was important to build a relationship with the incoming owner.

The Daily Record weren’t alone in welcoming Whyte with open arms. A google search would have revealed little after he paid to get past disqualifications cleared up but within 24 hours of surfacing Internet Pampots knew that despite owning a castle the claims about Whyte’s wealth were as accurate as Liverpool and Barcelona doing battle to sign Alfredo Morelos.

After throwing former Record editor Bruce Waddell and James Traynor overboard, discssing Whyte’s claims, Jackson explains:

For example, he will allude to an unhealthy relationship between Waddell and Sir David Murray. That one’s for Waddell’s conscience. The truth of the matter was that Whyte was a small-time chancer who was carrying out this entire fake-over wearing suspiciously ill-fitting suits and pointy pleather shoes.

Also, it is to my own eternal shame that I was dragged into this ‘wealth off the radar’ charade having been instructed to write a puff piece by Waddell on the night we were breaking the news that Whyte was in talks to buy his big pal out.

Hand on heart. It was the first time that I had heard his name. Within an hour I had rattled up a 1000-words backgrounder on the basis that I trusted the information being handed down by my own superiors.

If every day is a school day then this was the most difficult, pride-swallowing lesson learned in 25 years on this editorial floor.

It soon became apparent that Whyte was not remotely what we had believed him to be. Paul Murray who was on the Rangers board at the time, reached out to make contact with me through a third party to express his own deep rooted concerns about the ‘disastrous consequences’ of a successful Whyte takeover.

From that moment on the two of us worked hand-in-hand in order to expose the real Craig Whyte. Paul did so for the love of his club. I sought to right a mortifying wrong. Whyte will claim that he had the power to control the editorial output of the Daily Record.

He will make reference to one specific exclusive in which I revealed his ruinous plan to mortgage off future season- ticket sales in the kind of spectacularly high-risk financial model which led to the demise of Leeds United. Whyte will claim he successfully ordered Traynor to stop this story from being printed. And these claims are untrue.

In fact, my story was splashed across the back page of the Daily Record on June 14, 2011. Only one month after his takeover had gone through. What Whyte did do was issue a furious denial which, of course, was completely false but perfectly true to form.

He also contacted Traynor to threaten our paper with an Ibrox ban unless he received a personal apology from myself. It was given through gritted teeth along with the warning that I still believed my information was correct and would do everything in my power to provide the irrefutable proof.

It took another six months of investigating – along with Paul Murray’s relentless pursuit of the truth – before we had uncovered that evidence.

For a year Whyte was given fawning, uncritical coverage by the Record with the exception of the story about taking a mortgage over future season ticket sales, the Ticketus deal. After appearing in print it was zapped from the on-line edition.

Internet Bampots uncovered the document confirming the deal, a fortnight later it was in the Record but quickly deleted, going to the same place as Whyte’s deleted Google history.

The asking price for the club dropped from £30m in November 2010 to £1 by May 2011. In February 2012 the club went into administration with liquidation arriving four months later.

In 2012 Jackson was given the Sports News award from the Scottish Newspaper Society.

CLICK HERE for ‘The Record finally turns on Craig Whyte, January 2012.

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