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BBC documentary hardened views on Rangers but now different questions need to be addressed

In the past few days, we have discovered that flash floods can take the form of a weighty 145-page tax judgment.

I suspect new-born babies in their cradles were the only ones not swept off their feet by the tribunal verdict on Rangers. Especially vulnerable to the roaring tide were those who had cosily presented themselves as judge, jury and executioner, all in one, over the fate of Sir David Murray. This would include those who, with an insouciance that was almost breathtaking, would tell me of their "contact in the Revenue".

Now, bloggers can be fantasists and there is no way of telling whether this was idle bragging or that their contact was no more than the tea lady supposedly drawing out revelations by tempting those in the know with digestive biscuits. I suspect these claims of getting people within Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs to sing like linties will now quietly subside.

It is certainly indicative, though, of the extent of the involvement of those who, at the very least, clearly wished to influence perceptions of Rangers' misdemeanours. None of those people needed to tell me of Murray's failings. I criticised his prodigality, his rush of blood to the head over Tore Andre Flo, his acquiescence to Dick Advocaat on the construction of a vastly expensive training ground set against mounting debt, which admittedly was brought under control eventually, but not without considerable pain to successive managers at the club.

And I would vote for any party who would legally prevent rich men from employing clever lawyers and accountants to act as satnavs to tax avoidance, which effectively is like pick-pocketing the rest of us.

Yet all that is a country mile away from drawing a portrait of flagrant illegality over the use of EBTs. The paradox is that Murray's ditching of the club, when he did, meant he had no voice in the middle of the furore to fight back as Rangers took a right kicking from all quarters. This could be interpreted as a dignified silence or that of a man in an air-raid shelter waiting for the armistice to sound. Ally McCoist tried his best, but the Rangers manager is no Obama of soaring rhetoric. And Sandy Jardine on the steps of Hampden was no Mark Anthony on the steps of the Forum. So the boots swung in. And the wearer of the biggest tackety boots of all was the BBC.

It seemed so sequential, ranging from the odd editing of a McCoist interview which certainly was not intended to portray him as soothsayer of the month, right through various programmes which suggested it was open-season on Rangers, since they had no case to answer.

At the crux of all this was their award-winning documentary delving into what they perceived to be the murky depths of possible illicit payments at Ibrox. With respect to all the other media organs wading into Rangers, this programme was the real game-changer.

I have not met one person yet who came away from that programme not concluding that Murray was up to no good. Even though it performed a valuable public exercise in exposing the dastardly Craig Whyte for what he truly is, at its core was the reference to Murray and EBTs. For, without the Damoclean tax sword hanging over Murray's head on this issue, Whyte would not have materialised in the first place.

There is little doubt that views on Rangers hardened considerably on the back of a programme which allowed viewers to interpret inferences in their own way. That style was in fact a subtle and nuanced incrimination. The simple demonstration of the convoluted system of paying players by whatever means and the programme's passing on of evidence to appropriate authorities created that very sense of exposure of duplicity. As a piece of television it truly merited its award but, at the same time, whether through unintended consequences or not, it hardened views among Scottish Premier League members who were to vote on Rangers' future some weeks later and leant a credence to the word "cheating", effectively helping to move its province from the outlandish websites right into the heart of football discussion at the highest level.

Rangers were thoroughly discredited by this programme even though, if it was motivated by a presumption of guilt on Murray's part, that has now been blown out of the water. I hope the pendulum of journalistic impartiality still exists there in what is one of the most valuable of public institutions.

I admit to being hyper-sensitive about deliberate agendas as, when I joined the BBC more than four decades ago, I found myself in a departmental anti-Catholic, anti-Celtic ethos which I had to fight against; successfully, I have to claim, as Jock Stein became a regular associate of mine as an analyst when previously he would not have been seen dead inside Queen Margaret Drive. This was not done to curry favour at Celtic Park, although the other side of the city thought it was. It was just the right battle to take on for the sake of integrity.

To ensure that the pendulum of impartiality in the BBC's splendid new building is still pointing towards the centre of the earth and hasn't swung too far one way or the other, out of public interest, perhaps the same skilled people should put together a documentary dealing with the following questions:

Why were Rangers singled out for such forensic examination when other parallel schemes existed in other institutions?

Why did it take such an inordinate time for the tax tribunal to come to a decision when it was universally known that a club could have been on the verge of extinction?

Would an examination of alleged leaks by HMRC serve any useful purpose?

All this could not be done, of course, before the next tribunal chaired by Lord Nimmo in January, to which there should be no real objection and about which I have already been told by the same bloggers mentioned before that Rangers will have titles stripped and be forced to make reparations for the money they were awarded as a result, which could put them out of business before the end of this season.

So already the verdict is in. Who am I to question that? But, in preparation for an adjudication that might end up in another flash flood of surprise, those who have made up their minds already should have sandbag protection to hand.

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