Two directors of St Mirren FC are suing former director Alan Wardrop for defamation.
Jim Gillespie and Mark MacMillan, the chief executive and director of corporate services at national children’s charity Kibble, which purchased a 27.5% shareholding in the Paisley club in 2020, were granted an interim interdict against Mr Wardrop.
The action has came about following claims by him that they had acted dishonestly regarding an outline application to build a children’s welfare centre in Paisley.
Mr Wardrop was a member of the St Mirren board from 2016, until the end of last year, is now subject to what is believed to be the first action under Scotland’s new Defamation Act.
Under the terms of the interim interdict, granted by the court today in Edinburgh under the Defamation and Malicious Publication (Scotland) Act 2021, Wardrop has been ordered not to repeat his accusations that they had covered up an intention to build on St Mirren Football Club owned land by lying.
As part of the action, which will now move ahead to trial, both men are seeking a public retraction, apology and substantial damages from Mr Wardrop, as well as removal of the alleged false allegations online.
Mr Gillespie said: “It’s extremely regrettable that we have been obliged to take this action, but Mr Wardrop’s behaviour left us no choice. This is not something that we have entered into lightly, but he must be forced to answer for his actions, for the good of the club, of Kibble and of our reputations. We look forward to this matter being heard in court.”
Mr MacMillan said: “The entire premise of Mr Wardrop’s attacks on us is simply false. Despite this, he undertook a sustained, highly public and defamatory campaign against us in the national media and we have now been forced to take action to protect our reputations and to put the record straight.”
Mr Gillespie added: “The partnership between Kibble and St Mirren has been a very beneficial one for both parties and for the local community.
“The club is in a far more stable financial position, achieved its first-ever top-six finish in the SPFL and has already broken its season-ticket and kit sales records this summer.
“All this has been achieved while providing valuable training and employment at the club for scores of young people in Kibble’s care. To have that undermined by one man’s false allegations is enormously frustrating.”
Lawyer Stuart Munro of Livingstone Brown, representing both men, said: “Today’s hearing is believed to be the first time that Scotland’s new defamation law has been considered by the courts. Mr Gillespie and Mr MacMillan are delighted that the court has granted an interim interdict in their favour, preventing Mr Wardrop from making further accusations of dishonesty.
“My clients regret that they find themselves in this situation, but if the only way of securing justice is through the courts, so be it.
“The action will now progress through the court process.”
Headline Photo Credit: Hugh McMillan