HOW much is it finally going to cost you and me to settle the malicious prosecutions of the Rangers administrators from 2012 and four others with cases still outstanding? I did ask the Scottish Government and the bungling incompetents who created the mess, the Crown Office, but they’re not saying. They won’t even answer how much they are budgeting for.

So far, it has cost at least £25 million, and that’s just to pay off Paul Clark and David Whitehouse and their legal fees. Then there’s Charles Green, who briefly owned the club and is claiming £20m and costs, with three other actions pending. So the final bill is likely to be well north of £50m – my small money is on £100m.

The Scottish Government is giving a blank cheque to Copfs (the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) to settle and it will need to be an outsize one because there are a lot of noughts to fill in.

How do I know it’s a blank cheque? Because it says so in black and white in a minute of the Copfs resource committee in October, although you wouldn’t realise it unless you were aware of the minutiae of the affair.

It was the then-Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland who presided over the triggering this multi-million-pound farce.

The holding line by Government and Copfs is that the present Lord Advocate, James Wolffe, will make a statement to Parliament when it’s all over.

The Copfs statement says the Justice Committee has written to the Lord Advocate.

So far, and hopefully only temporarily, there has been no scrutiny, no challenge, no committee examining this, no-one held to account.

Scotland, 2021.

Kiss the Skye

You would think that a young man who travelled 25 miles on a jet ski across the Irish Sea in freezing cold December, having never been on one before, then walked 15 miles to see his girlfriend would be applauded. Not in the Isle of Man. He was jailed for four weeks.

If Dale McLaughlan from Irvine had gone to Skye, rather than that wretched little tax haven, they’d have been piping him in and buying him drams. But the heart knows no geography I guess.

The island, with virtually no taxation, has a Victorian notion of punishment. They only abolished birching in 1993, although to be fair to them, which is difficult, the last one was in 1976, 28 years after the rest of the Britain stopped it.

They don’t like non-residents on the island. Only the local tax avoiders are allowed to come and go. The rest of us need special permissions in these times. McLaughlan had worked there as a roofer and met his girlfriend but several applications to return were refused. So he bought a jet ski and off he went.

But there’s good news. I hear he may be about to feature in a Valentine’s Day ad for flowers and chcolates. I hope the money is tax-free.

Not so fond farewell

A NEW recruit and booster of Scottish independence is Louis de Bernières, author of the dull Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, who has a novel (geddit?) idea of how to achieve it. Have an English and Welsh referendum about whether they want us or not.

In a letter to The Times he wrote: “The populations of Wales and England should have the opportunity to have a say in what we want our relationship with Scotland and Northern Ireland to be. We have no vested interest in clinging on to either of them.” He added: “The attachment to Scotland is mostly a sentimental one, a kind of familial love, but it seems to me that the constant complaining and smug grandstanding of the Nationalists, and the barely concealed Anglophobia of too many Scots, have so alienated us that we would be glad to see the back of them.”

You too pal.

Cherry-picking fights

POLITICAL leaders are meant to attract members to their party but Joanna Cherry the SNP MP, has been clearing them out faster than you can count. So much so that the Wee Yin had to send a video message from Bute House on Wednesday evening appealing to young people not to bail out of the party.

It’s all about gender rights and alleged transphobia, over which the party is tearing itself apart. This is not an issue that 99 per cent of the general public care a hoot about, well only when the issue spills out into the open into a delicious spat like this one.

Cherry, who is a QC and a lesbian – and these facts are relevant – tweeted earlier in the week supporting a barrister called Sarah Phillimore who had been suspended from Twitter over allegations that she was anti-Semitic and transphobic. Phillimore specialises in child protection law. I can’t find any references to justify her suspension but then most of her postings are not now accessible.

Cherry’s support set off a barrage of criticism and abuse from her own side – she was so busy blocking people her tea got cold. One of the blockees was fellow MP Kirsty Blackman who supported the ban. I think they’re due a square go on College Green this week.

As Twitter went hot, dozens of young folk who deplored Cherry’s support of Phillimore began resigning from the SNP. Stuart Smith, the vice-convener of Out For Independence, told followers he “could no longer morally justify staying in a party that has become a breeding ground for bigotry”. Just calm doon, son!

As they disappeared, the SNP leadership went into crisis mode and Nicola Sturgeon was forced to go in front of the camera for the second time on Wednesday – without actually pointing the finger at Cherry – to appeal for them to stay, saying “as SNP leader I will do everything I can to change that impression and persuade all of you that the SNP is your party and you should come home where you belong”.

It’s understood that complaints about Cherry, and requests for a proper definition of transphobia, went to this weekend’s NEC meeting (this was written before then).

There is a sub-text to this, of course. Cherry is seen as a rival to Sturgeon and, as she is a prominent supporter of Alex Salmond, she’s therefore an opponent of her leader. Neither of the principal disputees have yet come before the parliamentary inquiry into the Salmond affair, which meets for half a day a week in months with an X in them, I think.

Incidentally, is the inquiry going to call former ambassador Craig Murray to give evidence? He has already provided it in his defence of a charge of contempt of court which, because I have no parliamentary or court protection, I can’t detail here. But you can go to his website and read it all.

But back to Cherry-picking. The barrister she’s supporting, Phillimore, hasn’t just focused the ire of the LGBTQ+ brigade.

A fellow barrister called Barbara Hewson was suspended from the Bar a year ago for a series of abusive tweets about her, calling her a “nut job” among milder rebukes.

Keep this all up, please!