Duke of Buccleuch was 'an actor' in Yarnwinder probe
Marshall Ronald claims the duke owes him the sum for recovering the artwork.
Madonna of the Yardwinder was taken from the duke's family home, Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill, in 2003.
The Leonardo Da Vinci painting was recovered in 2007 after Mr Ronald, of Upholland, Lancashire, sent a message to an undercover officer stating: "The Lady is coming home".
Three years later the former lawyer was cleared of conspiring to extort money for its return at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Mr Ronald claims in the civil action that the duke provided a letter of authority confirming that the officer, known as John Craig, acted as his agent in the recovery of the painting and was authorised to conduct negotiations.
He contends that the £4.25m was the amount agreed to be paid to him for his role in securing the return of the masterpiece and that the agreement was made by Craig acting on behalf of the Duke.
The duke maintained in the action that Craig had no actual authority to enter any agreement or negotiate on his behalf.
It is said the letter of authority was requested by the police as part of their undercover operation and was designed to support John Craig's undercover persona.
Giving evidence in court, the duke said he first became aware of an undercover operation mounted by the police in 2006.
He said he was informed that a man by the name of Brown had convinced the police that he had seen the painting and possibly had access to it.
He said he was asked by an officer to have a phone conversation with him which he did. "I knew I had to act out a role," he said.
He added: "I was an actor in a process which they were devising and creating."
The judge, Lord Brailsford, reserved his decision in the case.
Below, the Actual Authority Issued by the then Earl of Dalkeith, now Duke of Buccleuch, Which was withheld illegally by the Prosecution at the 2010 trial of the Da Vinci Madonna accused. If it had been disclosed there would not have been any grounds for arrest and indictments, let alone a criminal trial.
This document was only discoverd post trial and there is an enquiry into why the prosecution withheld it from the Defence at the criminal trial.
1. This is a self-proving document. When a document is subscribed by its granter, or
granters, signed by one witness and contains a statement of the latter’s name
and address, the authenticity of the granter’s signature is presumed.
The terms of the letter could hardly be clearer. No-one reading the letter could doubt that the defender had appointed John Craig as his agent.
OUTER HOUSE, COURT OF SESSION
 CSOH 101
OPINION OF LORD GLENNIE
in the cause
MARSHALL NEIL CRAIG RONALD
THE DUKE OF BUCCLEUCH
Duke rejects £4.25 million claim over return of stolen da Vinci
The Duke of Buccleuch appears in court to dispute a claim he agreed to pay a former solicitor millions of pounds for the return of the Madonna of the Yarnwinder.
But the duke, who is Scotland’s largest landowner, has submitted that Mr Craig had no authority to enter any agreement or negotiate on his behalf. His legal team also told the court that the agreement cited by Mr Ronald is tainted by illegality.
They claimed the letter of authority was requested by the police as part of their undercover operation and was merely designed to support Mr Craig's undercover persona.
The 'Madonna of the Yarnwinder' was stolen in 2003 and returned in 2007
The court heard yesterday how the masterpiece was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, near Thornhill in Dumfriesshire, on August 27, 2003.
Painted around 1500, it depicts the Virgin Mary in a landscape with the Christ child, who gazes at a yarn winder used to collect spun yarn.”
The duke said yesterday that he was elsewhere on the estate when the theft occurred. However, his late father, who was then the duke, had been left “shocked and saddened” by the crime.
He told the court he had first become aware in 2006 of the police’s undercover operation after he was informed that a man by the name of Brown had convinced investigating officers that he had had sight of the painting and possibly had access to it.
The duke said he agreed to a police request to have a telephone conversation with the main, telling the court: "I knew I had to act out a role.”
He was also asked to sign a "To whom it may concern" document which was drafted by police during the sting operation.
The duke said that he had been asked to play a part in supporting the undercover officer in pursuing the investigation. However, he told the court that police had not mentioned a man called Marshall Ronald in the period up to the painting’s recovery.
Marshall Ronald claims he struck a deal for the safe return of the painting
The court heard how Mr Ronald had contacted a loss adjuster involved in the case in August 2007 and Mr Craig, the undercover officer, called him later that month.
Mr Ronald told the court: "I believe I had a contract with John Craig and it had agreed the figure."
But Andrew Young QC, the duke’s counsel, told the court that there was no discussion with the aristocrat about what Mr Craig could say in negotiations to try and recover the picture, which now hangs in the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh.
He said Mr Ronald had failed to prove the police officer was acting as the duke’s action and his legal action must fail. The judge, Lord Brailsford, reserved his decision in the case, meaning he will issue it at a later date.
Bid to sue Duke of Buccleuch over Da Vinci art theft
The painting was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, four years earlier.
He negotiated its return with an undercover police officer whom he thought represented the duke.
In 2010 Mr Ronald, of Upholland, Lancashire, was cleared with others of conspiring to extort money for its return following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.
In the damages action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh he claims that the duke provided a letter of authority confirming that the undercover officer, known as John Craig, acted as his agent in the recovery of the painting and was authorised to conduct negotiations.
He contends that the £4.25m was the amount agreed to be paid to him for his role in securing the return of the masterpiece and that the agreement was made by Craig acting on behalf of the duke.
The 10th Duke of Buccleuch, who took the title after the death of his father in 2007, is contesting the claim.
The court heard evidence from retired detective inspector Gary Coupland, who became involved in the investigation in 2006.
He said the duke, who was then the Earl of Dalkeith, was asked to sign a document on headed notepaper because a man wanted "a letter of comfort" in case he was caught with the painting.
Andrew Young QC, counsel for the duke, asked the former policeman if his client had any part to play in drafting the document. He replied: "None whatsoever."
Mr Young asked the former detective if he had taken any instructions or directions from the duke or his family about how to approach negotiations with Mr Ronald or another man, Michael Brown. He said: "None whatsoever."
He was asked why the duke had been kept in the dark about efforts to recover his painting. The ex-policeman said: "Operational security. People's lives may be at risk."
The latest hearing, before judge Lord Brailsford, continues.
'Dad's Army': The defendants made their first appearance before magistrates last month
A "Dad's Army" of nine men face allegations over the Easter raid in which losses are thought to have run in "excess of £10 million".
Today Terry Perkins, 67, Daniel Jones, 58, and Hugh Doyle, 48, all of Enfield, north London; William Lincoln, 59, of Bethnal Green, east London; and John Collins, 74, of Islington, north London, all appeared via videolink from HMP Belmarsh at Southwark Crown Court.
Also appearing were Brian Reader, 76, and Paul Reader, 50, both of Dartford Road, Dartford, Kent; Carl Wood, 58, of Elderbeck Close, Cheshunt, Herts, and taxi driver John Harbinson, 42, from Benfleet in Essex, who face the same charge of conspiracy to burgle between April 1 and April 7, this year.
They are all also charged with conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property between, namely a quantity of jewellery and other items, between April 1 and May 19.
As the men waited more than 15 minutes for the videolink to connect properly, Perkins asked the clerk: "Can you ask the judge and yourselves to come down to Belmarsh so we can have tea together?"
The raid over the Easter weekend saw thieves break into the vault at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in London's jewellery quarter.
Once inside, the thieves ransacked 73 safety deposit boxes, taking millions of pounds-worth of items.
The nine men, who have been remanded in custody, are due to next appear at court on September 4 for a plea hearing.