YouTuber who claimed former Rangers directors were 'gangsters' facing jail

Vlogger Paul Hendry breached a court order banning him from repeating false claims that Sandy and James Easdale were 'gangsters'.

YouTuber Paul Hendry who claimed former Rangers directors were ‘gangsters’ facing jail McGill's

A YouTuber who hounded two former Rangers directors by making defamatory allegations about them in online videos has been found in contempt of court.

Judge Lord Braid concluded on Thursday that vlogger Paul Hendry breached a court order banning him from repeating false claims that Sandy and James Easdale were “gangsters”.

The self-styled crime journalist was ordered to pay £400,000 damages to the two Greenock-based businessmen last year. 

Hendry, of Eastbourne, Sussex, had made false claims on YouTube and X about how the pair were involved in “serious organised crime” in the the Inverclyde town.

His actions led to Sandy, 55, and James, 52, – who own McGill’s, a firm said to be Scotland’s largest independent bus company, launching defamation proceedings against him at the Court of Session. 

As part of the ruling ordering the pay out, Lord Braid also allowed for an interdict to be passed which prevented Hendry from repeating the claims. 

However, Hendry repeated the defamatory remarks on social media which lead lawyers acting for the Easdales to return to the Court of Session. 

Earlier this year, Hendry – who represented himself in the action – denied breaching the interdict. 

He said he thought the court order didn’t cover the place where he published them – England. 

He told Lord Braid that this meant he shouldn’t be held in contempt. 

Advocate Ewen Campbell – for the Easdales – said that Hendry knew what he was doing and that he should be held in contempt for his actions. 

On Thursday, in a written judgement issued at the court, Lord Braid ruled that Hendry was in contempt of court for what he had done. He now faces a possible prison sentence.

Lord Braid wrote: “During the videos, Mr Hendry made clear, in terms, that his intention was to hound the petitioners and to continue to broadcast in similar terms on a regular basis. 

“Mr Hendry accepts that his allegations in the videos referred to the petitioners (for whom he used derogatory and insulting names, which I find it unnecessary to repeat).

“Common themes throughout the videos were that the petitioners were at the top of a pyramid of organised crime in Greenock, that they had been involved in numerous murders over decades, that they were involved in the importation of drugs and guns through Greenock, that they were involved in a child abuse ring and blackmail and that they were involved in money laundering. 

“Those statements were all defamatory of the petitioners in that they alleged that the petitioners were and are involved in or associated with serious organised crime: precisely what Mr Hendry had been interdicted from doing.

“For all of these reasons, I find that Mr Hendry’s conduct denotes wilful defiance of, or disrespect towards, the court; and as such I find him to be in contempt – indeed, an egregious contempt, given the blatant and repeated repetition of the interdicted conduct.”

The pair moved up the 2023 UK Rich List with their fortune now put at £1.425bn; in The Sunday Times list, which revealed the 345 richest people in the UK, they are placed at 126.

The Easdales also own several businesses. 

The Easdales joined the Rangers board in 2013 following Craig Whyte’s takeover of the Glasgow club. They later resigned in 2015.

It is also not the first time that an Easdale has raised a successful court action against a blogger for defamation.

In 2017, Sandy won a £200,000 damages case at the Court of Session against Greenock community activist John Houston.

The 38-year-old had previously alleged, on social media, that his firms were involved in criminality. Easdale said the claims were both defamatory and false.

Houston was then ordered to pay £100,000 in damages to the bus boss and another £100,000 to one of his firms, Clyde Metal Recycling.

In May 2023, they were awarded £200,000 each against Hendry who had been ordered to take down videos and posts that included disparaging allegations and warned not to repeat them.

Hendry calls himself a “citizen journalist” and posts under the name “Art Hostage” on YouTube. He also has an X account.

Hendry admitted repeating the defamatory remarks at an earlier hearing. 

According to court documents, the Easdales have reported the matters to Police Scotland and Sussex Police.

The court has previously heard that Police Scotland will complete a ‘police transfer’ to Sussex Police which would allow them to investigate and take any criminal action considered appropriate against Hendry. 

The court has heard that Hendry did not believe he had broken the Scottish court order because he was publishing in England.

Hendry told the court: “I didn’t know that. I’m not a legal scholar. I’m not legally trained. 

“I believed it only applied within the body of Scotland. I genuinely thought that the interdict wasn’t enforceable in England unless it had been registered in England.”

The judgement tells of what Hendry said in one of the videos. He compared them falsely to the Kray Brothers.

Lord Braid wrote that Hendry should be held in contempt. 

He added: “There is no question but that Mr Hendry deliberately published the material in question; and that he did so repeatedly. There is also no question but that the material is defamatory of the petitioners since it alleges (repeatedly) that they were and are involved in organised crime. 

“All of that is accepted by Mr Hendry. The only live factual issue is whether or not the material was disseminated in Scotland. That question admits of only one rational answer: clearly it was. 

“The YouTube videos were accessible within Scotland and were disseminated here published in Scotland is neither here nor there.”

Lord Braid has fixed another hearing to take place next week in which he will decide what penalty to impose on Hendry. 

He wrote that this could take the form of a prison sentence, a fine or to defer sentence for good behaviour. 

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in