A senior journalist at the Daily Record has been arrested and charged with racist behaviour following a football match last month. The journalist is Mark Smith who works as Deputy News Editor at the tabloid. Smith was on his way home from the Hearts – Inverness match on September 10th when he was arrested in Perth with three other men. They were all charged with Racially Aggravated Breach of the Peace and following an appearance at Perth Sheriff Court were released on bail.
Last month there were high profile arrests of Celtic and Rangers fans weeks after an altercation at a service station in Perth. This was followed by other high profile arrests of Hibernian fans weeks after their pre season friendly with Sunderland. In both cases dozens of police officers were accompanied on the early morning raids by a media pack from newspapers, TV and radio.
107 Cowgate has learned that these operations were arranged in conjunction with the Justice Secretary’s office and timed to assist the SNP in making the political case for their Offensive Behaviour Bill. This is political policing and another example of why the Offensive Behaviour Bill, with its increase in police powers, should be rejected.
Obviously, Smith and the others arrested should be afforded the presumption of innocence prior to their trial but this case does raise certain questions which must be answered irrespective of the outcome of this case. Firstly given the high profile nature of Smith’s position at one of Scotland’s biggest selling newspapers, why the silence from the press? Why no fanfare of publicity when a leading journalist and Hearts fan is arrested for Racism following a football match?
Also the day before the Rangers Celtic match at Ibrox the Daily Record ran headline asking “Who’s more hated at Ibrox? (is it Lennon or the taxman?)”. Later that day Celtic withdrew cooperation with the Record and issued the following statement.
Celtic Football Club has issued a statement on a Daily Record article printed today.
The newspaper carried a back page headline asking: “WHO’S MORE HATED AT IBROX? (Is it Lennon or the taxman?)”.
A spokesperson for Celtic Football Club commented:
“Clearly, given the year Neil Lennon and his family have experienced – with bombs, bullets, death threats and physical assaults – this kind of reporting is inflammatory, highly irresponsible and quite simply offensive. For this newspaper to treat the matter in this insensitive and ill-judged manner is astonishing.
Celtic has today been inundated with complaints from supporters relating to this story and the Club fully understands their feelings on this issue.
There is no question, on the eve of a Rangers v Celtic match to use “Lennon, “Hate” and “Ibrox” in a newspaper headline is extremely irresponsible.
Neil Lennon, his coaching staff and the Celtic players are very disappointed at this reporting and have jointly decided that they will not be co-operating with journalists from The Daily Record.
It is only right that the newspaper delivers a suitable retraction and apology.
Neil Lennon as always will continue to receive the full support of everyone at the Club.”
Given the above we are entitled to now ask, did Celtic know a senior journalist at the Daily Record had been arrested for racism?
And finally will Alex Salmond now acknowledge the Racism and Bigotry that exists amongst the Hearts support? He has failed to do so despite supporting the club for decades. No one believes he has not noticed the chanting and hatred at Tyncastle. So instead of claiming this problem is the responsibility of Celtic and Rangers (itself an offensive claim) or using the politically motivated arrest of HIbs fans, or (as he did last week) claim the problem was people singing irish rebel songs Salmond should acknowledge and address the deep-rooted and structural nature of ethno-religious discrimination in Scotland.