THERE is a good deal of confusion over James Kelly MSP’s repeal bill to scrap the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act. The proposed legal change is not about being more tolerant of football fans who sing bigoted or offensive songs in grounds and on the way to and from matches. Neither is it – as some would have you believe – a party political ploy, although it was votes solely from SNP MSPs which forced the original legislation through, and the repeal attempt has come about because of the party’s loss of its overall majority.
Police watchdogs chiefs slammed as ‘panto villains’ amid row over ‘bully’ chief Phil Gormley
COP watchdog chiefs were blasted yesterday for their “panto” performance. MSPs grilled the Scottish Police Authority’s ex-chairman Andrew Flanagan and former chief exec John Foley amid the row over bully probe Chief Constable Phil Gormley’s gardening leave. Nat Alex Neil savaged the pair — who both left at the end of last year — as he also highlighted issues exposed by official reports including poor leadership, financial blunders and undue secrecy. And he urged current deputy chairwoman Nicola Marchant and board member David Hume to quit.
Scotland’s senior police officer has claimed it is now difficult to see how he can get a fair hearing into complaints against him. Chief constable Phil Gormley has been on special leave since September while complaints of bullying against him, which he denies, are investigated. Mr Gormley has hit out at the process itself, complaining that he has still not been interviewed by the investigators and claiming that, because of the public rows breaking out over his future, it may be impossible for him to get a fair hearing. A statement issued by his legal team said: “The chief constable’s professional reputation, career and welfare have been eclipsed by a public battle of wills between the Scottish Police Authority and the Scottish government.
Police in West Lothian are appealing for information after a parked police van was broken into in Blackridge. The side window of the van was smashed and and two police hats and a high visibility jacket were stolen. The incident happened around 9.05pm on Wednesday 24 January in the Loubourn area of Blackridge. A number of youths were reported to have been seen in the area around the time of the incident and officers are asking anyone with information to come forward.
Scotland’s Justice Minister has been urged to consider resigning after a Holyrood inquiry heard he pressured an independent watchdog to stop the country’s chief constable from returning to work. Andrew Flanagan, the former chairman of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), told MSPs that Michael Matheson had argued that allowing Phil Gormley to return to the force while bullying allegations were investigated was a “bad decision”. He said he felt he had “no choice” but to “pause” a decision to allow Mr Gormley back, despite the SPA supposedly being independent of ministers.
Holyrood showed the red card to controversial anti-sectarian laws tonight in a landmark defeat for the SNP. A historic vote signalled the beginning of the end of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. The legislation was brought in by Alex Salmond when he was first minister as an emergency response to shocking behaviour at Scottish stadiums. Flashpoints included an infamous “shame game” in 2011 when Rangers had three players sent off and Ally McCoist was embroiled in a touchline feud with Neil Lennon.
Former SPA chair felt he had ‘no choice’ over chief constable’s return
The former Scottish Police Authority chair claims to have been told by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson it would be “bad decision” to allow Chief Constable Phil Gormley to return to duty. Andrew Flanagan gave Holyrood’s public audit committee his version of events as Police Scotland’s chief officer remains on special leave while the subject of four investigations by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) relating to allegations of gross misconduct, all of which he denies. His testimony on Thursday (January 25) was seized upon by SNP and opposition MSPs who said this was different to the account given by Mr Matheson who said he had restricted his opinion to the process.
Law Society of Scotland welcomes changes to Criminal Justice Act
SIGNIFICANT changes to Police Scotland’s power to arrest and detain suspects came into force yesterday – and the Law Society of Scotland says legal aid rates are inadequate for the increased workload this will create for solicitors. He Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act introduces new police station procedures and extends the rights of suspects to see a solicitor at any stage while detained. Another measure introduced under the legislation is “investigative liberation” which will allow the police to release a suspect under conditions and interview them at a later date.
Scottish Labour wants Michael Matheson to resign over Phil Gormley
LABOUR have called for Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to resign after he was accused of misleading Parliament by the disgruntled ex-chief of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA). Speaking to Holyrood’s Audit Committee, Andrew Flanagan, a former chairman of the SPA disputed Matheson’s statement to MSPs earlier this month. Last November, under Flanagan’s leadership, the SPA voted to allow belgeaured Chief Constable Phil Gormley to come back to work, despite allegations of bullying and an investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).
Arriving in a blaze of publicity from grandstanding Alex Salmond, there was scepticism about the wisdom of the signing from the start. And, true to form, it’s played a bit of a nightmare, failing to perform the role it was brought in to do. So it’s no surprise that yesterday it was given its marching orders. The problem, however, is that there is no suitable substitute sitting stripped on the bench ready to be thrown on as a replacement. Of course, there is an unsigned alternative.
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