Date: 19th December 2018 at 11:52am
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Another day, another rehashing of events past and which have been the subject of investigations.

I usually ignore this stuff, but today STV News has given over its website to a self-confessed vigilante who didn’t wait for criminal proceedings or evidence based hearings to get underway, before he decided to dispense his own special brand of justice, including threatening phone-calls and chucking bricks through people’s windows.

It makes you wonder what the real motivations behind this kind of coverage are.

For a mainstream media outlet to lend legitimacy to such action, in the name of justice, is so dangerous that it ought not to need pointing out. For someone who wilfully and knowingly admits that he broke the law, and for the media outlet giving him the platform, to at the same time lecture Celtic on its “moral responsibilities” is so hypocritical that it takes my breath away.

We have laws in this country, and they exist for a reason. There are processes and procedures that have to be followed. Responsibility for criminal acts has to be proved, not just inferred, not just hinted at, there has to be evidence and it has to be produced in court. That’s how the system works. You also need people willing to come forward and be heard, and if there is often a long gap between the act and the punishment that’s just a small part of why.

Let me be as blunt as I can be; any individual connected with this stuff ought to be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The fullest extent of the law, right? That doesn’t mean that we form a hanging party and string them up. Those advocating that ought to get a grip on themselves; we’re supposed to be civilised human beings, not animals. Dispensing personal justice is not okay, not by a long shot; it’s reprehensible.

Everyone knows I am a lefty. But I have never been a liberal with a bleeding heart. When it comes to crime and punishment I’m a hard-nosed bastard. For offences such as the ones we’re talking about I would have no problem passing whole life terms. I would extend the dragnet to anyone who knew and kept quiet about it – within reason.

I’m happy to spell out what that means; it means that we don’t force victims to give evidence or come forward. Those who scream that everyone who heard the slightest rumour should have gone to the police are pig-ignorant at best and pursuing agendas at worst. This isn’t about institutional cover-ups, more often than not it’s about the reluctance of those who were victimised to talk about it until they are good and ready to do so.

Many would not have wanted the police involved at the time.

Many still don’t.

I can understand why, when the whole issue involves so much petty, spiteful, point scoring, when so many of those vultures camped on the edges of it aren’t interested in the slightest about their plight or about justice for them, but simply want to dig their claws into Celtic.

And until those people give evidence, there is no evidence.

Because, again, this is a country which has laws.

We don’t prosecute people on hearsay and innuendo. We don’t drag people into courts and throw them into cells on the basis of rumours and chatter around the campfire. I know some people would prefer that we did; let me put it this way, none of those people are on my friends list or should expect Christmas cards.

So when people start lobbing grenades about “cover ups” and who knew and who didn’t, we’re on the fringes between truth and fiction.

It doesn’t matter what people knew, only what people could prove, only what those who were being hurt were willing to go public with. Because that’s what criminal prosecution ultimately means; people standing up in front of a court – and a baying, slobbering media in this case, and more besides – and talking about it all on the record.

Anyone who had, and with-held, evidence from the authorities is guilty of a cover-up. Anyone who respected the wishes of a victim or a victim’s family to keep things in-house … a grey area that nobody has a right to pass judgement on.

Beyond that, the ambulance chasers are now jumping into this and they, too, are screaming about “moral responsibility” but they show no inclination to any of their own. You can tell the calibre of these people by their tactics; pressuring Celtic through the media, which is the absolute last way anyone’s ever going to get the club’s attention.

You notice the way a lot of these folk dance around the issue of legal responsibility, right?

Lawyers talk about being able to make connections … I’d say get on with making them then, instead of trying to fight this in the media.

Because to get their win fee those connections have to be proved, not just inferred. If they think Celtic Boys Club and Celtic FC are one in the same then they are welcome to pursue that theory, but it will require more than conjecture to actually demonstrate it as a legal fact.

“Forget the legal niceties,” says STV’s ‘whistle-blower’.

Which I understand coming from him, as he didn’t bother with them when he started throwing bricks through windows.

But I’m afraid the courtroom remedies do tend to be built around those pesky “legal niceties”, and as we saw in several high profile cases outside of football, these issues are always a hundred times more complicated than the media would like, or some of the simple-minded fools who seize on them for their own dishonourable ends would have you believe.

What some people want is for Celtic itself to be punished for what people peripherally associated with it did.

That’s the bottom line.

They want Celtic not only to write big cheques on the basis of alleged links, but in doing so to accept legal responsibility … which is what the very act of writing those cheques would do, like it or not.

It wouldn’t matter how it was done, in public or in private.

The moment the first of those cheques was written, what do you think would happen?

Would Celtic get praise for showing “moral responsibility”?

Of course we wouldn’t.

We’d be accused of “buying silence”, of a cover-up by other means.

Those who want to see our club suffer would simply have a new avenue of attack.

Moral responsibility? Don’t make me laugh.

Justice for victims? They have their own ideas on who the victims are, and an entire 2012 mythology built around them.

It is curious that none of them slammed their own club over its response to allegations levelled at it; when they weren’t accusing people of trying to “drag them in” to the investigations – nobody has to drag you in it if you are actually already in it – they were executing a manoeuvre of legalistic gymnastics of the most astounding kind.

Sevco actually suggested that victims contact the liquidators of the OldCo, a brutal – and yet legally sound – piece of doublethink that’s so brazen it leaves your jaw on the floor.

So seriously, I don’t want to hear any more from our press about us accepting “moral responsibility.”

I’m amazed some of them can spell it.

To try and shame the Celtic board of 2018 with conjecture about links long severed and alleged cover-ups from more than 30 years ago is simply not going to fly and there is no amount of media inspired innuendo which is going to force our hand.

Because not a single person at Celtic Park right now was involved in any of it.

Those who say “Celtic has a responsibility” are actually saying that those men do, and that is bullshit, I’m sorry to say.

Why should Peter Lawwell, why should Dermot Desmond, why should Ian Bankier or any of them engage with such a ludicrous demand?

To suggest that any of the moral weight of this falls on them is garbage, it’s absolutely unconscionable.

Anyone who thinks that those men, that our club, is insensitive to this or unconcerned about the plight of the victims of these acts is looking at us through a very distorted lens.

Above and beyond that, the people who run Celtic do have certain obligations – actual legal ones – which the media would rather conveniently ignore; one of those is an obligation to its shareholders. To serve them well the board must uphold the club’s standing and its name. To be blackmailed via the media into accepting collective guilt, and paying a financial penalty, over something that happened outside our walls, three decades ago, would be an abrogation of that responsibility.

What I’m saying is that even if they wanted to, those inside Celtic Park could probably not take that decision unilaterally.

They are mandated to defend Celtic at all costs, right or wrong.

So even our club’s response, you see, is driven by what’s legal and what’s not.

People who chuck bricks through windows, who would rather “legal niceties” were set aside in the pursuit of vigilante justice, and the newspapers which present those folk as heroes might not care … but that’s not the point.

Celtic is acting by the book, by the law.

Although some people want to treat this as one, this isn’t a game.

The legal wheels are turning elsewhere.

Cases are still under active investigation.

All this does, all this white-noise really does, is hamper their progress.

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