Minutes of meeting with ACC Corrigan 23/11/11

Published on Tuesday 20th December, 2011 by Celtic Trust


VENUE: St. Mary's Parish Hall, Abercromby Street, Calton.  DATE: 23/11/11.  TIME: 14.4

ATTENDANCE:Police: Assistant Chief Constable - Campbell Corrigan (ACC), Inspector Simon Wright.

Supporters’ Organisations:  Jeanette Findlay (JF) - Celtic Trust,   Alan Horne (AH) - Affiliation of Registered CSCs,   Joe O'Rourke (JOR) - CSA,   Gerry McDonnell (GMD) - AICSC

  1.  Introductions
  2. Original Meeting:  JF opened proceedings by raising the issue of the Daily Record article in which the original intended meeting had been previewed.  She pointed out the fact that this had led to the cancellation of the meeting and that it had not been helpful.  The ACC said that the report had been issued by the Strathclyde Police Press Office and had been somewhat misleading. He had wanted the original meeting to go ahead and to have dialogue with the all the supporters’ organisations including the Green Brigade (GB) but it had backfired. JOR raised the issue of alleged bias on behalf of Strathclyde Police press officer and there was a brief discussion of this issue.  JF pointed out that as recently as the previous day the Police Press Office was still confirming that the ACC's comments were correctly reported. The ACC said that he had been correctly quoted in large part but that he had not made the ‘he’s not the problem, they are’ comment.  He went on to give assurances of openness and honesty in the meeting and confirmed that he was not there to give anyone a ‘finger-wagging’.
  3. Policing of Hibs game on 29/10/11.  JF indicated that there appeared to be a change in police policy in that game.  In the past when there have been arrests at CP, people are usually arrested in the concourse or outside the ground but rarely inside. She outlined the events of that day from the perspective of the fans and emphasised our concerns about some of the actions of the police and the refusal of the Match Commander to meet with us subsequently to discuss the matter as we would have expected. It was made clear the group wanted to talk about Eddie Smith in his role as the Match Day commander not as an individual. The ACC confirmed said that Eddie Smith was acting under instructions.
  4.  JF then turned to the history of our recent discussions with the Police.  She pointed out that all the issues such as overcrowding, standing and lateral movement had been discussed and resolved.  However, at the meeting when these matters were resolved, members of the group asked Eddie Smith (ES) what the police will come for next and ES replied 'nothing' and we now feel that this was not entirely honest.
  5. Getting back to the 29th October, that day had seen a peaceful protest involving almost 2,000 fans at St. George's Square followed by a peaceful walk to the ground for the game. Everything was going smoothly until near the end of the game when the police went into section 111 in a heavy handed way. They were saying "we're the law" as they knocked people out of the way. Fans were also chased along seated areas which is dangerous in itself.  There was no violence from any of the fans. In response the ACC said that since the government- organised summit in April of this year, police activity around football grounds has changed. The police preference if someone is breaking the law is to take them out to the concourse but that they don't want to ‘destabilise the crowd’. If they go in to a crowd it needs to be clear in their minds about why they would do this and not wait until the end of the game. The Match Commander makes the decision. We asked why the Match Commander had made the decision in this case and he replied that he could not discuss it as it related to a pending court case.  When it was pointed out that ES had met with the Celtic groups before and that it was somewhat strange for him to refuse to meet when requested to do so in the days after the Hibs game, the ACC stated that ES didn’t want to discuss it because of the probability of a court case. ES will meet around generality issues but not specific issues. We indicated that we understood that restriction and that we had had discussions around issues before and accepted that pending cases could not be discussed.  The ACC did not know why ES did not do the same on this occasion.  However, he indicated that the police position was one of no change in policing at CP.
  6. The issue of the 17 year old who was arrested at his home at 7am the following Friday was raised. We wanted to know why this young guy, with no previous convictions, was held in custody until his court appearance on the Monday and for a number of days thereafter. The ACC said that this was not standard procedure and he didn't know the circumstances of the case in question but he would personally look into it and get back to us.
  7. The CSA and the Trust reps both indicated that they would have difficulty in meeting with ES in future because they now cannot trust his word.
  8.  The ACC then recommended that the Celtic groups present should formally complain regarding the Hibs game on 29th October and that the police will then get back to them. He indicated that his main concern was to stop young people who otherwise would not be involved with police, from getting into trouble. The ACC said that his understanding - coming from the Procurator Fiscal (PF) in Glasgow – is that if you sing ‘Ooh, ah up the ‘RA’ you will be prosecuted for Breach of the Peace.  He was then informed that the PF office is dropping the religious aggravation part of the charge because this chant is nothing to do with religion and he concurred.  When questioned he said that no other chant or song, sung en masse by the Celtic fans is currently seen as being something for which you would be charged at a football ground.  However, he said that could change under certain circumstances.  He also said that the police will continue to report cases to the PF office and wait for their feedback as the police need guidance on what songs are actionable. When asked how many Not Guilty verdicts on a particular charge relating to a particular song (where the accused admits singing it but pleads Not Guilty to a Breach charge) would it take before the Police stop arresting people for it he replied ‘One’.
  9.  The ACC thanked us for our attendance and participation at the meeting and hoped that we could collectively work together for the foreseeable future. This concluded the business of the meeting which finished at 16.30 approx.




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