• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Police in hunt for Celtic bomb fiend

POLICE have launched a major investigation after Celtic’s manager, the former Deputy Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament and one of Scotland’s top QCs were sent bombs through the post.

 

The devices, which could have killed, were addressed to Neil Lennon, Trish Godman, the former Labour MSP for West Renfrewshire, and Paul McBride, QC, separately over the last month.

Loading article content

It is believed that the packages were sent from within Scotland and officers from Strathclyde Police are understood to be investigating a sectarian motive to the terror campaign.

Initial tests had suggested the first two packages -- sent to Mr Lennon and Ms Godman -- were hoax bombs, but sources revealed last night that further analysis had confirmed that all three were dangerous enough to kill. Each package was intercepted and passed on to police for analysis before it could cause any harm.

First Minister Alex Salmond last night confirmed that an emergency meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee was held on Saturday to discuss the incidents. Media outlets also became aware of the explosive devices over the weekend but agreed not to report on them at the time as the investigation widened.

A Strathclyde Police spokesman said that it would be inappropriate to comment on a live investigation.

However, in a statement, Mr Salmond said: “Let us be quite clear -- there is a major police investigation under way to ensure that the individual or individuals concerned are identified and apprehended, and then brought to book with the full force of the law.

“We will not tolerate this sort of criminality in Scotland, and as an indication of the seriousness with which we view these developments the Cabinet sub-committee met last Saturday to ensure that the police investigation has every possible support to come to a successful conclusion. We are confident that this will be the case. These disgraceful events should remind all of us who love the game of football of what unites us as a community.

“It is time to remember what we value in society, and unite to condemn those who use football as a pretext for their pathetic and dangerous prejudices.”

A package sent to Mr Lennon was intercepted at Kirkintilloch delivery office on March 26. Mr McBride’s package was addressed to his office at the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh but was intercepted.

Two days later, another device is believed to have been delivered to Ms Godman’s constituency office in Bridge of Weir. Ms Godman is a well-known Celtic fan and once famously turned up at the Parliament’s Celtic supporters’ club dinner wearing their jersey.

Mr McBride has represented Lennon and last week launched a scathing attack on the Scottish Football Association over its treatment of Rangers following Ally McCoist’s successful appeal against a touchline ban for an angry touchline exchange with the Celtic manager after the Old Firm Scottish Cup fifth-round replay on March 2.

The SFA later said it was considering legal action over his comments that the association was “dysfunctional, dishonest and biased”.

In the days after that Old Firm match, it emerged that a suspicious package containing a fake nail-bomb and bullets had been sent to Lennon. It was intercepted by mail staff at a sorting office in Saltcoats, Ayrshire. It is understood that this will also form part of the police investigation, which was revealed just days before the latest Old Firm clash is due to be played at Ibrox on Sunday.

A source close to Mr McBride said last night: “He was appalled and disgusted at being targeted for voicing honest opinions and has nothing but praise for the way police conducted themselves in this inquiry.”

A Celtic Football Club spokesman said last night: “We won’t be making any comment on it tonight.”

Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray said: “I am shocked and appalled at this sinister development. It is vital though that people keep calm and do not let the situation spiral out of control as that would be playing into the hands of the extremists behind this vile act.

“It is outrageous that something like this should happen in Scotland in this day and age.

“Strathclyde Police must have whatever support they need.”

Meanwhile, McCoist has called on the club’s fans to be arrested if they continue to sing sectarian songs.

He spoke out after Uefa opened a second disciplinary case against Rangers last week relating to sectarian chanting in the second leg of their Europa League tie with PSV Eindhoven.

“Maybe getting arrested will stop it,” said McCoist. “It might take police going into grounds all over the country and arresting people -- because it doesn’t seem to bother them that it’s going to have massive financial implications to our club.”

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

PARCH1.1097118