I was delighted to join members of FAC at the launch of a report into policing at the Gallowgate on Saturday 16th of March 2013. We had hoped to launch the report inside parliament but for some reason the Presiding officer refused to allow that.
This is something that TCN will return to at another time as it seems that when it comes to attending the Scots Parliament there are one set of rules for football fans and another set for everyone else.
We were accompanied by Peter Adam Smith from STV who is putting together a news package to be aired on Scotland Tonight sometime next week, that piece will also include interviews with GB members, FAC and the wife and I.
MSP Michael McMahon a long standing supporter of our endeavours to get to the truth greeted us outside the Parliament. I must make it clear that due to the presiding officers instructions Michael was not part of the report launch. We as a group then ‘launched’ the report outside the Parliament building. Michael then took us into the building and through to the meeting room.
We were joined by several MSPs who kindly found the time to meet and listen to us. Among the MSP’s were Michael and his daughter Siobhan, Jackie Baillie, Paul Martin all from Scottish Labour and the one and only John Mason SNP MSP. Various other MSP’s joined us as the meeting progressed.
Jeanette Findlay of The Celtic Trust handed out copies of the report to all the MSP’s and then gave them a presentation to help put the report into context. Following on from that we had a Q & A session where the MSP’s fully engaged with us. During this time it was pointed out by us that included in the report was a letter from Stephen House (the then Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, now head of Police Scotland) in reply to Jackie Baillie’s request for information on the police operation in the Gallowgate on the day in question. While we were discussing Stephen House’s actions throughout this sorry tale was that not only was his letter in reply seriously economical with the truth but also that he had lied to MSP’s in face to face meetings. This is a very serious turn of events, In my personal opinion it makes his position as head of Police Scotland untenable. If he can lie to MSPs what confidence can the people of Scotland have in him?
We then moved on to discussing the best way forward that would allow us to bring Mr House and his force to account for their aggressive actions on that day. Paul Martin MSP suggested that we raise a parliamentary petition which would help us to finally get to the truth. Several people at the meeting also suggested that we open dialogue with the new Justice minister Michael Matheson, who we hope will be more amenable than the disastrous Kenny MacKaskill, who, it was felt was far too close to Stephen House.
Now to Mr John Mason MSP… where do you start with this piece of work ? For the second meeting in a row he was very obtuse and seemed hell bent on discussing everything other than the Offensive Behaviour Act and what happened in the Gallowgate. However we managed to keep the meeting focused on the main reason that we were there for, and that was justice. You’ll be able to read in the mainstream media about what John Mason had to say at the meeting, so I won’t go into that here.
All in all it was a productive day with some great support and advice from MSP’s. The fight goes on !
Please feel free to download the report below the slideshow. I intend to read it in depth and write more articles concentrating on the content as some of it is pretty devastating.