The full bill for payouts related to the Rangers malicious prosecution scandal could be higher than £60 million, according to a report by auditors.
The Crown Office has allocated £60.5 million in unplanned costs for cases brought against the Lord Advocate by people connected to the acquisition and administration of the club.
Audit Scotland’s annual section 22 report into the Scottish Government’s accounts detailed the costs, with £51.7 million being paid out in compensation and legal costs as of March 2023.
A further £8.8 million has been set aside for cases which are still to be finalised.
The Audit Scotland report said: “To date, the (Crown Office) has accounted for £60.5 million of unplanned costs in connection with these claims against the Lord Advocate.
“Some cases have been resolved, with sums paid to the pursuers totalling £51.7 million to March 2023 with a further £8.8 million provided in respect of cases still to be finalised.”
Several people involved in the administration and acquisition of Rangers were wrongly prosecuted, later launching civil claims against Scotland’s prosecution service.
Administrators David Whitehouse and Paul Clark were arrested in 2014, though the Crown Office later dropped charges and admitted their prosecutions were “malicious”.
The Lord Advocate also admitted Charles Green and Imran Ahmad should never have been prosecuted, with Mr Green receiving more than £6 million in compensation plus legal costs.
The Scottish Government and the Lord Advocate have said an inquiry can take place once the civil cases have concluded.
In November last year, MSPs were told the costs connected to the Rangers malicious prosecution litigation was just under £51 million.
Scottish Conservative shadow justice secretary Russell Findlay said: “While the financial cost of this scandal looks set to smash through the £60 million barrier, the reputational cost to Scotland’s prosecution service is incalculable.
“It’s sickening that every penny of this vast sum is being diverted from frontline services including our justice system.
“A fearless and efficient inquiry, chaired by someone from outwith Scotland, must robustly get to the bottom of this malice and incompetence – and hold those responsible to account.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The settlement of these cases will not be met from the COPFS resource allocation.
“The overall budget is managed across the Scottish Government and, as happens every year, any overall funding changes required to support expenditure are confirmed as part of budget revisions.“