A Bridge Too Far

Perhaps there is something we as Rangers supporters can find universal agreement on – a shared hope that the most recent bout of boardroom musical chairs will result in a period of stability at our club, free from the culture of leaks which has angered so many of us.

I sat firmly on the fence over the boardroom changes as I did not feel I had enough information on the various issues to allow me to express support for one person or faction.

It was clear however, from the numerous online forum threads which I followed, that many bears did pledge their allegiance. Two topics seemed to reign over all others in the discussion stakes – that Walter must stay on the board and that Charles Green should return from ‘exile’.

What was of particular interest to me were some of the schools of thought which gave rise to these strong expressions of support. The pro-Green supporters almost unanimously cited Green’s combative style as necessary for the defence of our club. And whilst there were various reasons the pro Walter camp put forward, the most obvious being the trust the Rangers support had in him, one other one in particular caught my eye – which the esteem in which Walter was held within the Scottish game would be essential in any future bridge building with the SFA.

It’s perhaps worthy of looking at these two schools of thought further. Let’s start with Green and the belief that he will defend our club to the hilt. Is that assertion justified ? Before the pro Green supporters remind me that he said this or he said that – I’m not judging him on what he said but what he actually did. Big difference.

Our club has  been subjected to three instances of legal process in the course of this whole debacle. On every occasion our club has been vindicated by those processes. At this point it’s perhaps worthy reminding ourselves of some of the injustices wrought upon our club by the SFA.

1. Our right to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty has been totally trampled over.

2. Despite being neither tried not convicted, the SFA, by a mechanism and system no-one appears to be privy to, declared us guilty of the allegations being levelled against us.

3. In declaring that guilt the SFA then drew up a list of punitive measures to be placed upon our club

4. Contained within those punitive measures was the stripping of trophies and titles which the club had won. Such a punishment is far more excessive to the clubs involved in the Italian match fixing scandal, who of course had found guilty of match fixing.

5. The granting of Rangers licence involved a process of extortion and blackmail which saw A previously declared unlawful transfer embargo imposed and The withholding of prize monies which were due to Rangers.

It’s been several years since I had occasion to open a law book (thankfully) but I think most of us would agree there is enough in 1-5 above which would have had law firms drooling at the mouth. Yet despite all this we still languish in the lowest tiers of Scottish football, and no-one inside our club, Charles Green included, appears to have the stomach to pursue this. For a club which appears to be continually on the back foot wouldn’t it be refreshing if a solicitor’s letter arrived on Stewart Regan’s desk informing him that the circumstances and treatment of Rangers FC were now being subject to legal examination ?

And of course Charles Green recruited that Rottweiler of the press and media – James Traynor who promptly warned the press to be very careful what you write and say about this club. To date that Rottweiler has yet to bite anyone, despite the ample opportunities which have presented themselves. An article so recent, that it is not even a chip wrapper, told how poor Pierre was cheated by Rangers by our use of EBT’s. What a pity someone at the Daily Record didn’t flag up the fact that Pierre was not at Celtic when Rangers were operating EBT’s and furthermore a tax tribunal had found Rangers not guilty of tax evasion in respect of their use.

For this Bear actions speak louder than words when it comes to the defence of this club.

Which brings us on to Walter. Now I’ve no doubt he probably has the tact, diplomacy and knowledge of the Scottish game to build bridges with the SFA.

But bridge building should not be on the agenda until the points 1-5 aforementioned, are addressed.

And by “addressed” I mean that there should be no attempts at bridge building until this football club and it’s support receive a full and very public apology for the injustices wrought upon it by the SFA, as well as the removal from their positions, of all those responsible for such injustice.

Not only should that be our default position – it should be non-negotiable.

Diamonds Are Forever

 

And so are Rangers. Allegedly.

Rangers, Now, Then & Forever.

But for the older Bears among us the thread title has a link to Bond. Not James Bond, but Ibrox Bond Holders. Who bought into our club with the promise of a seat for life.

Guys like Gary.

Only Gary received an e-mail informing him this will be the last season his seat would be guaranteed. Gary subsequently phoned the club today and pointed out that he had bought his seat for life. He was told by a staff member at our club that his seat had been bought from the oldco and the newco would not be honouring the agreement.

One wonders where to start with this. How about the thousands of Rangers fans who have to suffer daily taunts that “your club is dead”. Our support has laboured tirelessly to dispel this falsehood, quoting several objective official sources which confirm the continuity of our history and of course, our titles.

Of course there was considerable anger inside Ibrox when several players refused to TUPE over to the newco. In fact this very subject is currently the subject of litigation, drawing comments at the time from Charles Green “I’m very, very disappointed of course. “ and “I think this is just opportunism.”

Perhaps then those inside Ibrox will understand the “disappointment” of fans who see this latest dishonouring of an agreement with the support as just “opportunism”.

There was considerable mocking of the SFA/SPL when they continually moved the goalposts with regard to oldco and newco. When it suited their agenda we were oldco when it didn’t we were newco. It seems our club are as guilty of this practice as those they criticised for such very action.

I sure someone familiar with corporate or business law will point out what Rangers are doing is within the law. But that doesn’t make it right. Particular when it is to the detriment of supporters who by their loyalty have kept this club alive.

The club I supported has become a mere shadow of itself. And that is being generous.

Very generous.

A Deafening Silence

[98] Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.

I’m sure many of you will recognise the above. It is an extract from Lord Nimmo Smith’s report into the findings of the SPL’s enquiry into Rangers. Section 98 of the report to be precise.

Please note the use of the use of the phrase “which we understand were productions in the Rangers tax case”. For those who are not familiar with legal jargon the term “productions” refers to evidential items.

No legal knowledge whatsoever is required however to understand the gravity of the criminal conduct which involves the theft of evidence and passing it on to other parties.

Though perhaps someone should explain that to the Scottish press.

For despite Lord Nimmo’s startling revelation in section 98, not one member of the Scottish press corps have followed up on this. The highest profile tax case ever in Scotland, which had our press salivating for months filling column after column. And even that was not enough to satisfy their appetite for they would visit on an almost daily basis, an untrustworthy website written by anonymous men. And despite the clear agenda of the Rangers tax case blog, despite the unknown extent of their qualifications to pass legal judgement, our press championed them, seduced by that websites ability day after day, to produce sensational revelations as a consequence of information passed onto them.

And yet when a source as credible and objective as one of this country’s most qualified legal brains, in the form of Lord Nimmo Smith, makes the startling revelation that the evidence in the case which they drooled over for so long had been stolen, suddenly those same journalistic keyboards fall silent. Suddenly there is no longer the thirst for answers, an appetite for the truth. The new mantra they churn out is “forgive, forget and move on”

Why are they not asking the most fundamental of questions regarding this revelation the who, what, where, when, why or how ?

Has the demonisation of our football club reached the stage where the investigation of the truth is abandoned if the revealing of such truth shines favourably on our club, or perhaps more significantly, exposes those who have conspired, lied or been negligent ?

And of course this is not the first time that observations of our senior law lords has been ignored. Lord Glennie of course ruled the transfer embargo imposed on our club was, for want of a better word, unlawful. And yet that embargo still stands. It doesn’t take much to read between the lines about what has happened behind closed doors. For those having difficulty doing so might I respectfully suggest you check the definition of blackmail in the dictionary. For any Rangers supporters still under the illusion that this was about justice, fairness and upholding the law, this incident should put any such notion firmly to bed.

But let us not just return to Lord Nimmo Smith’s revelations but actually move beyond them. For as we all know the BBC were not the only recipients of confidential information – The Rangers Tax Case blog were also beneficiaries. For several months this blog mesmerised many within the Scottish media with their continued expose of confidential documents. Were these items also productions in the Rangers tax case and were they obtained from the same theft which benefited the BBC ? Or did they receive them as a consequence of a separate act of criminality ?

Either way it appears that HMRC did not feel that such criminality warranted a criminal investigation – otherwise Sir David Murray would not have felt it necessary to initiate a criminal complaint into this matter post tax tribunal verdict. It is also worth remembering his complaint was lodged prior to Lord Nimmo Smith’s findings.

Of course the unanswered questions in this article could be replaced with certainty if 60,000 more Rangers supporters would sign the e-petition calling for a government enquiry into the conduct of HMRC.

But news reaches this blogger that the once talkative Mark Daly had become very tight lipped about discussing the Rangers tax case and his documentary, evading questions with a terse “No comment”. The wheels of justice in motion ?

Has a clock started ticking on those who have conspired against our club, acted in a manner which suggested they were above the laws of the land and been negligent in their duty ?

Let me answer that one for you.

Tick Tock.

Chasing The Dragon – Update

I today had a meeting with Joe Fitzpatrick MSP, where I highlighted my concerns regarding the conduct of HMRC in respect of The Rangers Tax Case.

In particular, during the course of that meeting, I made reference to Section 98 of Lord Nimmo Smith’s report where he appears to indicate that the material passed on to BBC Scotland and other parties, was in fact stolen evidence and thus the appropriation of this material as well as the receiving and retaining of same, constituted a number of criminal acts, which to date, no person appears to have been charged. Furthermore certain agencies appear to have failed in their public duty to report such crimes.

Mr Fitzpatrick promised to investigate the matter, and in particular look into the matters raised, and write to the authorities concerned.

I shall of course, keep you all updated on this progress.

If any of you are wondering why I pursued this via the Scottish Parliament Representative for my constituency rather than the Westminster one, the answer is quite simple. My Westminster representative is one of the few people who supported Galloway’s Early Day Motion 913 accusing our club of deliberately side stepping our tax liabilities.

Yours in Rangers

D’Artagnan

Lessons from Liverpool

Authors foreword

This article seeks to examine the incredible and traumatic journey undertaken by those seeking justice for the Hillsborough 96 and to see what lessons can be learned for us in the Rangers family. It in no way seeks to make comparisons between the loss of a loved one and what has happened to Rangers football club in the last couple of years. We in the Rangers community, know from personal experience, having suffered our own disaster, that no such comparison can ever be made. Why you may ask then is a Rangers blogger, seeking justice for his club, even mentioning the Hillsborough campaign for justice – the answer is quite simple – their story, their efforts, their determination, their ability to overcome considerable odds – should serve as an inspiration for people seeking justice everywhere.

I can remember every time I have been forced to stop reading , to stop and pause at the magnitude of what I was reading. The first time was the opening page of Solzhenitsyn’s “One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich”. All my other stop and pause moments occurred during my research for this article, as I was forced to pause and reflect, often in wonderment , at the dogged determination, endurance, spirit, amongst other things, of those who campaigned for justice  in respect of  those who so tragically lost their lives at Hillsborough.

Every setback they suffered was put to down to experience, where one door closed they would, by dogged determination, force open another one. They were just ordinary people seeking justice, with no special qualifications or talents, united by a common purpose – the search for truth.

Of further inspiration to us all should be the incredible endurance and persistence they have displayed in their quest to obtain the truth . On the 20th anniversary of the tragedy , their continued lobbying and persistence caused government minister Andy Burnham to call on the emergency services to release papers and documents which had not been made available to the original Taylor report.

On 12th September, 2012, the Hillsborough independent Panel published its report into the findings, exonerating the Liverpool supporters completely and firmly laying the blame for the tragedy on a lack of Police Control.
As well as the many exemplary virtues, we the Rangers support can learn from their journey, there are also significant parallels in the lessons which had to be learned as well as the obstacles which had to be overcome in their quest for justice.

A prime example would be an unfavourable and unsympathetic press. Whilst many of us will be aware of the Scousers campaign against The Sun newspaper for their coverage of the tragedy,  that was not the limit of unsympathetic press coverage.

When some of the victims funerals were still taking place the following commentary appeared in The Sunday Times on 23rd April 1989.

“For the second time in half a decade a large body of Liverpool supporters has killed people …the shrine in the Anfield goalmouth, the cursing of the police, all the theatricals, come sweetly to a city which is already the world capital of self-pity. There are soapy politicians to make a pet of Liverpool, and Liverpool itself is always standing by to make a pet of itself. ‘Why us? Why are we treated like animals?’ To which the plain answer is that a good and sufficient minority of you behave like animals.”

To this day, the author of that revolting article, Edward Pearce has never apologised to the people of Liverpool.

An unsympathetic press is something the Rangers support are accustomed to.  “Cheats”, “Tax Dodgers”, “Financial Dopers”  were terms coined by the Scottish press, whilst some likened our club to something you would happily punch in the face until your hand hurt.

Whilst there is no comparison here there is however a lesson. Those whose vision for justice for the 96 did not allow an unfavourable perception or press to stifle their efforts or ambitions – they pressed on for justice regardless. And so should we.

Another parallel I would like to mention is the cover up by publicly accountable bodies in the case of Hillsborough – the Police and emergency services. It was a considerable obstacle to overcome,  and it took several years of campaigning and political lobbying and pressure, but as a consequence of their persistence the truth was finally uncovered. It is estimated that as many as 164 witness statements were altered, whilst a further 116 statements which portrayed the Police unfavourably, had been removed.

What is most worthy of note here is what was the primary reason for this conspiracy and cover up – negligence.

 
I appreciate with regard to our club there are factors at work which would suggest that there are far more forces at work than simply negligence,  I highlight it however to demonstrate that an unwillingness to accept blame for one’s own, or organisations failings, can itself be a catalyst to more sinister behaviour.

So did those campaigning for justice in Liverpool allow an unsympathetic press or conspiring publicly accountable bodies to stifle them in their quest for justice ?

No, with a unity of purpose they pressed on towards their vision. In the process they left egos, agendas, and divisions outside, and pressed on towards the greater goal. These ordinary people have brought institutions to their knees, forced them into public apologies, and brought the guilty to account.

We as a support would do well to emulate them in every sense.

To those who have conspired against our club, who have plotted and schemed behind closed doors, who have lied and cheated, stolen evidence and breached confidentiality, who have compromised their positions and their organisations integrity,  those who have been negligent in their duty and those who have covered up such negligence – be warned. Men like me are coming for you.

I doubt that last sentence will fill you with fear or trepidation.

But know this – in our pursuit of you we will draw our inspiration from the ordinary people of Liverpool who campaigned for the 96, we will emulate their determination, their single mindedness and their steadfast refusal to be deflected from their objective. For this, you should be afraid.

Very afraid.

The Right To Question

It’s good to know that SFA chief Stewart Regan is prepared to wait for the result of the Pinsent Mason investigation into alleged links between Charles Green and Craig Whyte. Perhaps after the last SPL enquiry into Rangers, which left a number of people with enough egg on their faces to make the mother of all omelettes (probably in a witches cauldron) lessons are being learned.

Of course there is a caveat to all this – Mr Regan reserves the right to ask further questions of Rangers should he not be satisfied with the Pinsent Mason report. I knew in time Mr Regan and I would find some common ground. You see I understand and empathise totally with the feeling of not being satisfied with answers.

Perhaps whilst he and Mr Doncaster are at a loose end, awaiting the aforementioned report, they could provide some answers to questions I have.

How did the SFA arrive at the decision to strip Rangers of various domestic honours when no trial or hearing had taken place and the allegations against the club were not proven ?

Who was present at that meeting and is there a recorded minute of that meeting ?

Was there a vote on the matter and if so who voted ?

The punitive measures contained in that 5 way agreement are far more draconian than the punishments meted out to the Italian clubs involved in the Italian match fixing scandal, why was it felt, the untried and unconvicted Rangers merited a more serious punishment than those involved in match fixing ?

Who proposed that the stripping of domestic honours be inserted into the agreement ? Was there a vote taken with regard to this motion ?

Given one of the fundamental precepts of the European Law on Human Rights is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, would the SFA concede that their handling of the Rangers situation constitutes a breach of those rights ?

In hindsight, irrespective of the arguments of conflicts of interests, was it wise to appoint Harper Macleod as “low level” intelligence gatherers in the SPL investigation given their long running association with Cetlic FC, a likely beneficiary should Rangers be stripped of those domestic honours ?

When one of Harper Macleod’s “low level intelligence gatherers”, who was present at a meeting involving Rangers, (I presume for the purpose of intelligence gathering) launched a verbal attack on the Rangers representatives, was this not an indication to the SPL that perhaps their “low level intelligence gatherers” were acting in manner which was neither objective or neutral not to mention unprofessional ? Why then were their services retained until the conclusion of the enquiry ?

Rangers had a transfer embargo imposed upon them which they successfully challenged at the Edinburgh Court of Session, Lord Glennie ruling in favour of Rangers. Why then does that transfer embargo still stand ?

What’s that Mr Regan ?

Who the hell do I think I am and why am I asking these questions of you, as opposed to our press corps or Rangers FC themselves ?

That sir, is perhaps the best question of them all.

For the love of club

Several years ago my wife and I discovered our teenage son was spending his school dinner money on cigarettes rather than buying himself food at lunchtime. Our response to this was twofold :-

  1. We withheld his dinner money

  2. My wife dispatched him to school daily with a suitable packed lunch in a Tupperware box.

Over the next few weeks I noticed two things. The first that my son’s general health and well being appeared to improve and secondly, the packed lunch box which he always hid for fear of his street credibility amongst his peers, would invariably return at the end of the day empty.

We took this course of action, not to be punitive, but we could not, sole in conscience, continue to fund our son damaging his own health.

I recite this story, not because I have signed up to some new health initiative, but because of the incredibly difficult waters I’m about to navigate – the rising groundswell of opinion amongst our support that they will be withhold buying season tickets whilst our boardroom continues to conduct itself like a runaway train being driven by George Michael.

Speaking to fellow Bears and reading forum posts, it’s clear the de-moralising affect this boardroom in-fighting is having on our support. Furthermore, the way this battle is being waged is particularly unedifying, and most certainly not the Rangers Way.

Inappropriate use of Rangers forums is bad enough, but equally so is reading some of the press hacks columns as they deliver the latest inside info courtesy of a briefing from someone on our board. One can almost sense their satisfaction as those hacks deliver yet another body blow to our great club. This time of course it is all self inflicted, emanating from the warring factions within our boardroom.

It is an utterly appalling way to treat a support who have stood by this club through thick and thin, who have financed its continuation and survival and ensured, by their loyalty and devotion, that it is a club worth investing in. Quite simply the members of our board should be utterly ashamed of themselves.

Have they any idea the emotional roller-coaster this support has been taken on over the last few years ? Do they understand the suffering we feel as daily we read about our club literally ripping itself apart ? What kind of model are they presenting for would be investors ?

Several years ago I was asked by a fellow Bear who I sided with in the Le Guen/Ferguson saga. My answer was simple – neither. Both had misled the Rangers support claiming all was well when behind closed doors they were actively engaged in a campaign against one another which caused our club considerable damage.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now – This support deserves better. Much better.

Honesty and integrity has always been a feature of the Rangers Way. Therefore I do not appreciate members of our board issuing the sound bites of the last few months, and let me paraphrase “we have have a great team in place who are all pulling together for the benefit of Rangers”. Not satisfied with embarrassing us with their conduct this board seem to be at ease with misleading this support as well.

Therefore you will not find me criticising any Bear who decides to withhold season ticket money whilst our current board behave in a manner befitting squabbling schoolgirls. There appears to me to be 2 casualties in this war – The Rangers Support and The Rangers Way.

I have been reliably informed that this current battle is about money and power, and the language of the Rangers Way is no competition for the language of pounds, shillings and pence.

Perhaps it time for the Rangers support, both by word and by deed, to speak to these money men in a language they will understand.

“People will come”

“Ray. People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. “Of course, we won’t mind if you look around”, you’ll say, “It’s only $20 per person”. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

There will be many of you who will recognise this James Earl Jones speech from the film Field of Dreams. For those who have not seem the film the story involves an Iowa corn farmer who has a succession of visions and voices urging him to build a baseball field on his farm. Struggling financially the farmer, played by Kevin Costner, ultimately takes the leap of faith and builds the baseball field, encouraged by Jones’ assurance that “People will come”

But a world away from the corn fields of Iowa there is another story. It too deals with an assurance that “People will come”. However unlike it’s Hollywood counterpart this story is rooted in fact. Yet, in terms of essential story telling it lacks for nothing in terms of plot, as it tells a tale of devotion, loyalty, faith and triumph over adversity and against overwhelming odds. Furthermore it is a story which embraces the heroic and the brave and shames the villainous and cowardly.

Rangers Football Club had been brought to her knees by a series of extraordinary circumstances. A negligent former owner, a crooked current owner, malicious individuals spreading lies from behind the cover of anonymity afforded by the internet, football chairmen who deferred decisions to the equivalent of a lynch mob, motivated not be a desire to see truth and justice upheld, but to feed their own personal hatred jealousy and bigotry. Add to the mix football authorities who not only abdicated their responsibility, but also the principle of a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and you can begin to appreciate the adversity that supporters of Rangers football club faced in their attempts to save their club.

Unlikely new owners emerged following administration, individuals with no former connection to the club. As time marched on and a new season approached the Rangers support were asked to invest in season tickets, entrust their hard earned cash to a collection of unknowns only months after    the revelations of the trauma and carnage of Craig Whyte’s tenure. An additional obstacle to the selling of season tickets was the club now rested in the lowest tier of Scottish football, the consequence of a pre-judging of guilt by others, of allegations the club in due course, would subsequently be vindicated of.

“They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon.”

And The People came. And came in their thousands in the clamour for season tickets. It was an exercise in faith, not in logic or rationale, just like a certain corn farmer in Iowa who built a baseball field in his back yard. It was not so much voices in their heads but a feeling in their hearts. Rational thought became a welcome victim of passion and desire for not just a football club, for a way of life, a badge of identity. The prophets of doom were silenced by a force of passion rather than rationale, and to this day those doomsday soothsayers still don’t understand. They never will for it is far, far beyond their comprehension.

“They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.

Grandfathers pass down stories to grandchildren, and fathers to their  sons. The wing wizardry of Alan Morton, the courage of Captain Cutlass, the day a 16 year old boy ended a trophy drought of 4 years, they all live as a result as of stories passed through generations of the Rangers community. In a time of adversity those memories became all the more cherished as their true worth and value was realised. The one footed winger who played for the club he loved and of course, the day a helicopter changed direction.  When I think back to that one footed wingers goal in the Dryburgh Cup Final, I too have been dipped in those magic waters, and no brush however big, will ever erase the smile from my face when I reminisce about that moment.

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh…people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

Rangers were there when I wore shorts to school and drank free school milk from a  milk bottle. They were there when Tennents had girls on their beer cans and Pans People graced our televisions on a Thursday night. They were there when I left school to pursue a military career. They were there on the day I got married. The birth of my children. The death of my parents. The birth of a grandchild. Friends, loved ones have come and gone but Rangers remain as the ever constant throughout all the years. Not just for me but for thousands like me. Did they really think we would just walk away from such an intrinsic core part of our lives ?

But other people came too. Reporters from all corners of the globe, Japan and Europe amongst others to report on a phenomenon which defied logic, which was an exercise of faith, loyalty and devotion. Perhaps those editors who tasked those reporters wanted a story which would allow their readers to dip into those magic waters and feel refreshed.

World records were set, games had to be cancelled such was the demand to see the Rangers. The Rangers support took on the haters, the doubters, the prophets of doom, the intransigent and conspirators and duly routed them.

For they failed to understand the most fundamental of lessons.

So long as there is a Rangers – People will come.  So long as People will come – there will always be a Rangers.

There was something remarkable about Leggo’s blog today, and it had nothing too do with the possible return of Dave King to the Ibrox boardroom. No the real pearl of wisdom in todays blog was his observation that the Easdale brothers had sealed their fate with the Ibrox faithful by giving an interview to BBC Scotland. If confirmation was ever required just how toxic this organisation has become amongst the Rangers support, then this proved to be the meat on the bones. What a damning indictment for the once respected BBC. The Rangers support could perhaps forgive the fact that one of the interviewees had a previous conviction for fraud, but to give an interview to BBC Scotland was beyond the limit of this supports forgiveness.

Those who follow my articles will be eminently aware that BBC Scotland have long been the target of my angst. What is interesting however is the change I have seen within the Rangers support towards this organisation. My early articles suggesting an anti-Rangers agenda within BBC Scotland caused a mixture of responses. Some agreed, some vehemently disagreed, while perhaps the vast majority were unconvinced by my argument. Perhaps that legal juxtapose, which is unique to Scotland, best summed up the opinion of the vast majority – Not Proven.

But fast forward today and the position is entirely different. The doubters are gone with even the most stalwart of sceptics grudgingly conceding that BBC Scotland’s attitude towards our club has been less than favourable.

Much as I would like to, neither myself nor any of my fellow Rangers bloggers can claim credit however for this seismic change of attitude amongst the Rangers support towards BBC Scotland, for to use an old military term, this has been very much a self inflicted injury. Furthermore, disdain and distrust of BBC Scotland is not confined to the Rangers support, the club themselves deciding enough was enough and banishing them from Ibrox recently. Considering our club, unlike some others, are not prone to banning journalists, this is perhaps and indication of just how far BBC Scotland have fallen.

Journalists such as Graham Spiers would describe the attitude of the Rangers support towards BBC Scotland as one of “paranoia”. Of course in referring to Mr Spiers as a “journalist” I am using the term very loosely, as anyone trawling through his various columns over the last few years would have more chance of finding Shergar than a Graham Spiers investigative scoop.

The problem with the paranoia accusations however is that they don’t stand up to closer scrutiny, and criticism of BBC Scotland over their coverage of Rangers is not confined to the Rangers community. Veteran broadcaster Archie MacPherson was particularly scathing of his former employers, even going as far as to taunt Mark Daly in a recent article to formulate a documentary about the men behind the Rangers Tax Case Blog. It will come as no surprise to us that BBC Scotland appear to have neither the inclination nor motivation to rise to Archie’s challenge.

Which brings us on nicely to the next question – What is the difference between Mark Daly and the authors of the Rangers Tax Case Blog ? – Answer nothing (except we know the identity of Daly) Both were the recipients of awards. Both were the recipients of stolen evidence. Both put their very own slant on the interpretation of that stolen evidence and both were ultimately proven wrong.

But Daly and his documentary about Rangers Tax affairs is probably the catalyst to the absolute disdain felt by the Rangers support towards BBC Scotland. One has to wonder at the motivation of media organisation, who on receipt of stolen evidence, fail to return it to the authorities and instead embark on a documentary which presents a very slanted view of Rangers tax affairs, a view which a subsequent tax tribunal of real legal experts, did not agree with.

But again we will go outwith the Rangers community to measure the objectivity of this documentary, and present Lord Nimmo Smith’s very learned opinion to officiate. The following is taken from his report into the SPL enquiry of Rangers.

[98] Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.

The use of the word “trigger” provides the indication. The documentary was so sensational, so slanted in a particular direction with it’s accusations and claims that it became the catalyst for frenetic media and SPL activity in respect of Rangers.

Objective journalism ? The result of the Tax tribunal provides the answer to that question.

So BBC Scotland’s standing with both our club and support is very much a case of reap what you sow. At a time when nationally the corporations standing is at an all time low due to the continually damaging Savile revelations, BBC Scotland have managed to further alienate a considerable section of Scottish society. I doubt very much this situation is repairable, certainly not in this generation or perhaps the next.

Whether the BBC will be a publicly funded organisation in the next generation is another matter. The conduct of BBC Scotland has certainly swelled the numbers of those who believe the BBC’s right to demand a licence fee should be abolished.

I hope Mr Daly thinks his award was worth it.

Chasing The Dragon

 

To The Right Honourable Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury,

Dear Mr Alexander,

SUBJECT : CONFIDENTIAL LEAKS RANGERS TAX CASE

I write to you as a shareholder in Rangers FC (oldco) and enclose an item of correspondence I sent several months ago to David Gauke.

Mr Gauke, rather than answer me direct, referred my letter to HMRC Ministerial Correspondence Unit. Their initial correspondence to me was a long winded letter which failed to even comment on the question I had asked. Their second letter following a response from me to their initial letter contained the phrase that “HMRC don’t comment on speculation about breaches of confidentiality”.

I would reiterate to you that I am not asking them to comment on such speculation, I’m asking if they reported the leaks of confidential information to the Police, as such conduct by it’s nature is a serious criminal offence, and like any such offence, would warrant a Police enquiry.

Since the date of my letter to Mr Gauke there have been two considerable developments with regard to this case. Firstly, as a consequence of HMRC continued prevarication with regard to this matter I sought legal advice. As a consequence of this I contacted Strathclyde Police in order to raise a criminal complaint in respect of the leaks of confidential information regarding a company in which I was a shareholder. I was contacted personally by Ruaraidh Nicolson, Assistant Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police who informed this matter was currently the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation.

The second significant development was the SPL enquiry into Rangers, in particular the summary by Lord Nimmo Smith in his subsequent report into the findings.

[98] Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.

Lord Nimmo Smith refers to documents which were “productions” and thus evidence in the Rangers Tax Case. He quite rightly questions how evidence can be removed and find itself in the possession of the media and other parties. There was only one organisation seizing evidence in the Rangers Tax Case – HMRC.

Mr Alexander, allow me to make something crystal clear. I am not asking this question of HMRC in order to play “amateur detective” nor to mischief make, I have every right as a shareholder whose company’s paperwork has been seized, to not only expect HMRC to take adequate care of confidential documents they have seized, but also where there is a breach of that confidentiality then I expect them to take all reasonable steps to investigate that breach in order that the perpetrator be identified and charged and as a consequence the leaks are stopped.

The legal premise here is quite clear clear – if HMRC have failed to report this matter to the Police then quite simply they have failed to take all reasonable steps expected of them, and thus there is subsequent liability with regard to such a failing.

In view of the developments I now have a number of questions, I would appreciate an answer to, preferably from yourself.

  1. Did HMRC report the leaks in the Rangers Tax Case to the Police ?

  2. Is there a protocol/procedural guidelines within HMRC as to the breach of a clients confidential information. If so have these been adhered to ?

  3. If such procedures have not been adhered to have you, personally, investigated these apparent failings ?

You will have noticed, Mr Alexander, an element of tenacity in my letter writing. Quite simply neither myself nor my fellow shareholders will settle for the unsatisfactory responses to date from HMRC. In all honesty I feel the impoverished nature of their responses makes a mockery of claims of “transparency” in all their dealings.

It is also regrettable that I find myself having to write to you in order to illicit a response to a reasonable question I have asked of others. There is a growing feeling that HMRC’s continued refusal to comment on this matter, thus preventing shareholders from seeking legal redress, is tantamount to an attempt to perverse the course of justice. I will await the findings of the Police investigation prior to seeking further counsel regarding this.

I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely