Free Speech – Is Shouting About “The F@#&ing Pope” a Crime – Is There “Culture of Hypersensitivity”?

Language is a funny thing. Words are generally dependent on their context, including who is the speaker or writer, to whom the words are directed, and the circumstances in which the words are written or spoken.

Language which would be unobjectionable in one context would be criminal in another, even if the speaker or author had the same thought processes.

What do you think should, or would happen to someone who was shouting “Can anyone tell what’s happening to the f@#&ing Pope?”

I am pondering these issues because of a case to which I was directed by Roy Greenslade’s Media Blog in the Guardian.

Being Rude About the Pope in the Newsroom

The case itself, Heafield v Times Newspaper Ltd [2013] UKEAT 1305_12_1701 (17 January 2013), can be read in full by clicking the link.

It was a decision of the Employment  Appeal Tribunal in relation to an application for appeal by Mr Heafield, whose original application had been rejected by the Employment Tribunal. His appeal had been rejected at the “sift” and the hearing reported above was his effort to be allowed to pursue the appeal.

The hearing was dealt with by Mr Justice Underhill.

The Appellant, Mr Heafield, was employed as a casual sub-editor by The Times newspaper in 2010 in advance of Pope Benedict’s visit to Britain later that year. The Appellant is a Roman Catholic.

As Mr Underhill J noted:-

On the evening of 12 March the Times was preparing a story about the Pope relating to allegations that he had protected a paedophile priest.  There was some delay in producing the story, and one of the editors in the newsroom, a Mr Wilson, shouted across to the senior production executives “can anyone tell what’s happening to the f@#&ing Pope?” When there was no response he repeated the question more loudly.  The Appellant was upset and offended what he heard.  He raised a complaint, which in his view was not properly progressed, and he then brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal for harassment and victimisation on the grounds of his religious belief.

The Employment Tribunal dismissed both claims. The appeal was against dismissal of the harassment claim, but not the victimisation claim.

The Judge then detailed the applicable law. (Please note that the statutory provision has changed since the relevant date)

The statutory definition of harassment was at the material time contained in regulation 5 of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, which reads as follows: 

“(1) For the purposes of these Regulations, a person (“A”) subjects another person (“B”) to harassment where, on grounds of religion or belief, A engages in unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of –

(a) violating B’s dignity; or

(b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive  environment for B.

(2)  Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in paragraph (1)(a) or (b) only if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of B, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”

The Tribunal approached the case on the basis of the analysis of regulation 5 (or, strictly, its equivalent in the Race Relations Act 1976) in the judgment of the EAT in Richmond Pharmaceuticals v Dhaliwal [2009] ICR 724. At paragraph 10 the judgment in that case said:

“As a matter of formal analysis it is not difficult to break down the necessary elements of liability under section 3A.  They can be expressed as three-fold:

(1) The unwanted conduct: Did the Respondent engage in unwanted conduct;

(2) The purpose or effect of that conduct: Did the conduct in question either

(a) have the purpose or,

(b) have the effect

of either (i) violating the claimant’s dignity or (ii) creating an adverse environment for her.  (We will refer to (i) and (ii) as “the proscribed consequences”.)

(3) The grounds for the conduct. Was that conduct on the grounds of the Claimant’s race (or ethnic or national origins) ?”

 Mr Underhill J noted that:-

As to element (1), the Tribunal found that Mr Wilson had indeed engaged in “unwanted conduct” but it held that neither element (2) nor element (3) had been proved.  As regards element (2), the conduct in question had neither (a) the purpose nor (b) the effect of violating the Appellant’s dignity or creating an adverse environment for him.  As regards element (3), the Tribunal held that what Mr Wilson said was not “on the grounds of” the Appellant’s religion.

He commented, regarding “purpose”:-

The Tribunal found that Mr Wilson did not know that the Appellant was a Roman Catholic; but, more generally and perhaps more pertinently, it found that there was, to put it shortly, no anti-Catholic purpose in what he said.  He simply wanted the article about the Pope and used bad language because he was irritated and under pressure.  That seems to me a wholly unsurprising finding, but anyway it is not challenged on this appeal.

Then, as regards effect he said:-

The Tribunal found at paragraph 88 of the reasons that the Appellant was upset by it; and it seems, arguably over-generously, to have treated that as meaning that he had suffered the proscribed consequences.  But it held that the case fell within the proviso in paragraph (2) of regulation 5 – in other words, that, to the extent that the Appellant felt his dignity to be violated or that an adverse environment had been created, that was not a reasonable reaction.  In my judgment that conclusion was plainly right.  What Mr Wilson said was not only not ill-intentioned or anti-Catholic or directed at the Pope or at Catholics: it was evidently not any of those things.  No doubt in a perfect world he should not have used an expletive in the context of a sentence about the Pope, because it might be taken as disrespectful by a pious Catholic of tender sensibilities, but people are not perfect and sometimes use bad language thoughtlessly: a reasonable person would have understood that and made allowance for it.

The Tribunal quoted the following passage from our judgment in Dhaliwal: 

“ … [N]ot every racially slanted adverse comment or conduct may constitute the violation of a person’s dignity.  Dignity is not necessarily violated by things said or done which are trivial or transitory, particularly if it should have been clear that any offence was unintended.  While it is very important that employers and Tribunals are sensitive to the hurt that can be caused by racially offensive comments or conduct, or indeed comments or conduct on other grounds covered by the cognate legislation to which we have referred, it is also important not to encourage a culture of hypersensitivity or the imposition of legal liability in respect of every unfortunate phrase.

Those observations are as applicable to the question of reasonableness as to the question of whether a claimant’s dignity has in fact been violated in the first place.  The facts of the present case seem to me a good illustration of the kind of case in which the imposition of legal liabilities is undesirable and outside the scope of the legislation.

The EAT ruled that the necessary elements to trigger the legislation were not therefore present and that the Employment Tribunal had undoubtedly been right to dismiss the application by Mr Heafield.

So, that all seems clear enough. Not everything said in a place of employment, even where it offends someone, will amount to a wrong in civil law. As the Judge noted, there are some cases where “the imposition of legal liabilities is undesirable.”

An Alternate Scenario In Scotland

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 has now been in force for just over a year. The Justice Secretary proclaims it a great success. Civil rights lawyers are rather more sceptical.

Imagine for a minute what could  have happened if the office of The Times where the Heafield incident took place had been in Scotland and the 2012 Act was in force.

You might wonder how an incident in a workplace, ruled as not breaching the civil law as regards employment rights, could possibly result in criminal sanctions. Read on to see what, I hope, shows some of the inherent absurdity and illiberalism in the 2012 Act, of the very sort criticised by Mr Underhill J.

The relevant parts of the Act are noted at the foot of this post.

Read shortly an offence is committed if, in relation to a regulated football match, a person engages in behaviour expressing or inciting hatred or which a reasonable person would consider offensive, and which behaviour is or would be likely to incite public disorder.

This is an offence even where no one who would be incited to public disorder is present.

OK, you might say. One can see how there are circumstances where the question, shouted and repeated, “Can anyone tell what’s happening to the f@#&ing Pope?” could be offensive and could incite public disorder.

But, how could an event in a newspaper office fall under an Act designed to deal with “Offensive Behaviour at Football”?

It all depends, and this is I think one of the ludicrous facets of the Act, if there was a “regulated football match” on TV in the newspaper office at the time. The offence does not extend to “domestic premises” where the match is shown, but a workplace would not qualify as “domestic premises”.

This is the case whether or not the conduct is at all connected to the football match, and whether or not the person allegedly committing the offence, or the “victim” is watching it.

So, if the game on TV is Real Madrid v Barcelona, then Mr Wilson, who shouted the question, would be safe from action. But if it was Albion Rovers v Penarol of Uruguay, played in Montevideo, for example, it would be covered, as that would be a “regulated match”.

It might seem strange, and contrary to any theory of jurisprudence, that whether an offence is committed depends on whether or not the football game in the background has a Scottish team playing in it!

And the mental element of a crime, the mens rea, does not, from my reading of this Act, necessitate any knowledge at all that a regulated football match is being broadcast. So Mr Wilson could have breached the 2012 Act by saying what he did even if he had no idea at all that a football match was on TV, or indeed whether or not he knew there was a football game going on.

It Was Lucky For Him That Mr Wilson Was In England, Wasn’t It?

In fact, because of the extra-territorial reach of the Act, as was shown by alleged events at Berwick last weekend, it does not necessarily mean that being outwith Scotland avoids the offence being committed.

As Section 10 makes clear (shown below) if Mr Wilson is habitually resident in Scotland, then he would have committed the offence under the Act wherever he was in the world, as long as there was a “regulated match” on TV at the time.

How Would the Police Deal With This in Practice?

The key to implementation of enforcement of this Act comes from the Lord Advocate’s guidance to the police and to prosecutors. The most important part of this is the recognition, or assertion, by the Lord Advocate that these matters are very serious and that, in the absence of other factors, where a person is accused of an offence under the Act and arrested by the police, they should be held in custody until the next court day for a first appearance before a Sherriff.

This means that, for example, a person arrested on a Friday would almost certainly spend the weekend in a police cell, till coming to court on the Monday.

We will use as examples Mr Quiet, who is a Roman Catholic sub editor on the Thymes newspaper and Mr Noisy, who is a Scottish resident but working in London for just now.

Mr Noisy demands to know, in his loud and angry voice and on more than one occasion “Can anyone tell what’s happening to the f@#&ing Pope?”

Mr Quiet gets upset by this reference to the Pontiff. He is an astute man who knows about the Act. He also knows that Mr Noisy lives in Paisley and is flying home the next day, to Glasgow Airport.

Mr Quiet contacts Strathclyde Police and provides them with his complaint and with a supporting witness (although should Lord Carloway’s recommendations be passed, that might not be needed). Mr Quiet also tells the Police when Mr Noisy is due to land at Glasgow.

This is an allegation of a Section 1 offence under the Act. The police and procurator fiscal have been instructed by the Lord Advocate to deal seriously with these matters.

Two of Strathclyde’s finest, PC Plum and PC Plod, therefore pop along to Glasgow Airport the next day, which is a Friday. They meet Mr Noisy off the plane and to his surprise, and possibly vocal objection, he is taken into custody, to appear the following Monday in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court.

The consequences for Mr Noisy could be dramatic. Explaining to his employer that he did not get back to work on Monday because he was arrested, kept in custody and appeared in court charged with an offence under Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act might lead them to believe he is a football hooligan. He could, and probably would, be suspended and could lose his job.

As far as anyone saying that surely Mr Quiet would not take things so far … Mr Heafield made a complaint to his employer, and when that failed raised Employment Tribunal proceedings and then appealed.

It would in fact be much simpler to ring the police, and would take far less “commitment” on the complainer’s part!


If the Mr Quiet/Mr Noisy scenario played out here, would the latter be arrested and have proceedings raised against him? Bearing in mind prosecutions in Scotland for idiotic and abusive messages on Facebook or Twitter, or for singing what are referred to as “inappropriate” songs, it would be a brave man who would say that, for certain, such a case would not be pursued.

And the absurdity of the Act (and I believe it is flawed to the point of absurdity) is that there is no need for Mr Quiet to say that he was incited to public disorder. The fact that no one was there who was so incited is irrelevant, if there are people who could have been.

The offence depends on proving exactly what football match was on at the time – what if the TV was changed over from Hearts v St Mirren to Bayern Munich v Paris St Germain just before Mr Noisy shouted the fateful words?

It does not matter that Mr Noisy could prove that he did not know there was a football match on.

It does not matter that Mr Noisy could prove that he did not see the TV screen on which the match was being shown.

Let’s look again at the words of Mr Underhill J:-

While it is very important that employers and Tribunals are sensitive to the hurt that can be caused by racially offensive comments or conduct, or indeed comments or conduct on other grounds covered by the cognate legislation to which we have referred, it is also important not to encourage a culture of hypersensitivity or the imposition of legal liability in respect of every unfortunate phrase.

However the 2012 Act is, in my view, one which encourages “a culture of hypersensitivity” “in respect of every unfortunate phrase”.

That is exemplified by the repeated comments on this blog where someone refers, for example, to “Huns”. (I use that as an example – there are other such words but that is the one I am focussing on just now).

This is indicative of a “culture of hypersensitivity”, without a shadow of a doubt.

Now, there clearly are, in my opinion, circumstances where shouting the question bawled by Mr Wilson could amount to an offence. Just read the case of Walls v Procurator Fiscal, Kilmarnock, where Mr Walls was convicted and had his conviction upheld, for racially aggravated breaches of the peace for signing the Famine Song and shouting “F… the Pope” and “Fenian B…….ds” at a Kilmarnock v Rangers football game.

But the prevailing attitude in Scotland seems to be only to look at the words, and not at context. People have their “thick skin” meters set very low.

One would hope that, if the Heafield v Times Newspapers case had taken place in Scotland the same sensible result would have been arrived at. However I suspect the lawyer for the Applicant would have made reference to the Scottish Government’s repeated comments about the n2012 Act, and the case could have gone the other way.

Free speech is a right but its exercise can be easily and most subtly eroded.

Posted by Paul McConville



1 Offensive behaviour at regulated football matches

(1) A person commits an offence if, in relation to a regulated football match—

(a) the person engages in behaviour of a kind described in subsection (2), and

(b) the behaviour—

(i) is likely to incite public disorder, or

(ii) would be likely to incite public disorder.

(2) The behaviour is—

(a) expressing hatred of, or stirring up hatred against, a group of persons based on their membership (or presumed membership) of—

(i) a religious group,

(ii) a social or cultural group with a perceived religious affiliation,

(iii) a group defined by reference to a thing mentioned in subsection (4),

(b) expressing hatred of, or stirring up hatred against, an individual based on the individual’s membership (or presumed membership) of a group mentioned in any of sub-paragraphs (i) to (iii) of paragraph (a),

(c) behaviour that is motivated (wholly or partly) by hatred of a group mentioned in any of those sub-paragraphs,

(d) behaviour that is threatening, or

(e) other behaviour that a reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(a) and (b), it is irrelevant whether the hatred is also based (to any extent) on any other factor.

(4) The things referred to in subsection (2)(a)(iii) are—

(a) colour,

(b) race,

(c) nationality (including citizenship),

(d) ethnic or national origins,

(e) sexual orientation,

(f) transgender identity,

(g) disability.

(5) For the purposes of subsection (1)(b)(ii), behaviour would be likely to incite public disorder if public disorder would be likely to occur but for the fact that—

(a) measures are in place to prevent public disorder, or

(b) persons likely to be incited to public disorder are not present or are not present in sufficient numbers.

(6) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to a fine, or to both, or

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.

2 Regulated football match: definition and meaning of behaviour “in relation to” match

(1) In section 1 and this section, “regulated football match”—

(a) has the same meaning as it has for the purposes of Chapter 1 (football banning orders) of Part 2 of the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006 (asp 10) (see section 55(2) of that Act), but

(b) does not include a regulated football match outside Scotland unless the match involves—

(i) a national team appointed to represent Scotland, or

(ii) a team representing a club that is a member of a football association or league based in Scotland.

(2) For the purposes of section 1(1), a person’s behaviour is in relation to a regulated football match if––

(a) it occurs—

(i) in the ground where the regulated football match is being held on the day on which it is being held,

(ii) while the person is entering or leaving (or trying to enter or leave) the ground where the regulated football match is being held, or

(iii) on a journey to or from the regulated football match, or

(b) it is directed towards, or is engaged in together with, another person who is—

(i) in the ground where the regulated football match is being held on the day on which it is being held,

(ii) entering or leaving (or trying to enter or leave) the ground where the regulated football match is being held, or

(iii) on a journey to or from the regulated football match.

(3) The references in subsection (2)(a) and (b) to a regulated football match include a reference to any place (other than domestic premises) at which such a match is televised; and, in the case of such a place, the references in subsection (2)(a) and (b) to the ground where the regulated football match is being held are to be taken to be references to that place.

(4) For the purpose of subsection (2)(a) and (b)—

(a) a person may be regarded as having been on a journey to or from a regulated football match whether or not the person attended or intended to attend the match, and

(b) a person’s journey includes breaks (including overnight breaks).

4 Sections 1 and 2: interpretation

(1) Section 1(1) applies to—

(a) behaviour of any kind including, in particular, things said or otherwise communicated as well as things done, and

(b) behaviour consisting of—

(i) a single act, or

(ii) a course of conduct.

(2) In section 1(2)—

(a) membership, in relation to a group, includes association with members of that group,

(b) “presumed” means presumed by the person expressing hatred or, as the case may be, doing the stirring up,

(c) “religious group” has the meaning given by section 74(7) of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 (asp 7).

(3) In section 1(4)—

(a) “disability” means physical or mental impairment of any kind,

(b) “transgender identity” means any of the following—

(i) transvestism,

(ii) transsexualism,

(iii) intersexuality,

(iv) having, by virtue of the Gender Recognition Act 2004 (c.7), changed gender,

(v) any other gender identity that is not standard male or female gender identity.

(4) In section 2(3), “televised” means shown (on a screen or by projection onto any surface) whether by means of the broadcast transmission of pictures or otherwise.

10 Sections 1(1) and 6(1): offences outside Scotland

(1) As well as applying to anything done in Scotland by any person, section 1(1) also applies to anything done outside Scotland by a person who is habitually resident in Scotland.

(2) As well as applying to anything done in Scotland by any person, section 6(1) also applies to a communication made by a person from outside Scotland if the person intends the material communicated to be read, looked at, watched or listened to primarily in Scotland.

(3) Where an offence under section 1(1) or 6(1) is committed outside Scotland, the person committing the offence may be prosecuted, tried and punished for the offence—

(a) in any sheriff court district in which the person is apprehended or in custody, or

(b) in such sheriff court district as the Lord Advocate may direct,

as if the offence had been committed in that district (and the offence is, for all purposes incidental to or consequential on the trial and punishment, deemed to have been committed in that district).



Filed under Criminal Law, Football, Human Rights, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill

80 responses to “Free Speech – Is Shouting About “The F@#&ing Pope” a Crime – Is There “Culture of Hypersensitivity”?

  1. Bill Fraser

    Why can’t people just get on with their lives and forget what others say. I went through 6 years of hell at High School being called names and picked upon but I put it all behind me and forgot about it. More recently word went round the small town I live in that I was gay and living with my older boyfriend; in fact my dad had retired and had moved in with me. My immediate reaction was one of horror but I quickly realised that those who cast doubts on the morals of others are, more often than not, those who have something to hide.
    What are your chances of being called a “white bastard ” in Scotland? Virtually none; you’ll just be called a “bastard”. Try going along to the local cop shop to make a complaint and they will laugh at you. However, add a racial element such as “black”, “yiddish” or even “foreign” before the word and you are likely to find yourself hauled up before the beaks.
    So what has gone wrong? Firstly, in the old days, the player in question would have stuck up a middle or index finger to the fans involved. It was part of the banter and everyone took it as par for the course. Then, however, fans decidied that any response from a player was an insult to themselves and complained to the authorities. So the next step was for players to complain about fans, though UEFA and FIFA still haven’t got their priorities right.
    I personally would not be offended by anything that any group of supporters saang at a football match. It is par of the ambiance and should be accepted as such. I rememeber a match between Dunfermline and Rangers in the early 70s when the Pars fans were herded into one part of the enclosure in front of the stand. The rest of the ground was filled by Bears. They began to sing “The Sash” and we all joined in. It wasn’t ant-catholic or anti-Celtic, it was just part of being in a football crowd and I miss the innocence of those days before PC took over.
    Now it is okay to shout “Ouh!” but if you shout “Ouh, ouh, ouh” you are likely to be arrested for insinuating that a non-white player is a monkey.
    What the hell has gone wrong with the world?

    • Night Terror

      hmmm, interesting response, Bill.

      You are immediately making me question my commitment to free speech with those examples. 😉

      I think there is already much better, effective and robust legislation to deal with the examples you cite.

      • Bill Fraser

        So what wass your commitment to free speech that my post made you reconsider? I can only assume that you were totally against the idea as my argument was about people saying what they like. Sticks and stones. If I totally ignore what others say about me then I don’t get stressed out by it but if I let others get to me then I am as bad as they are. I believe what they say.
        Laugh at all the crap that is shouted. It just proves how physically and mantally limited the abusers are.

    • josephmcgrath112001809

      I agree with what you say about being offensive to white people and ethnic people. Wher I don’t agree is in the assumption that it ok to be offensive. It is a poor reflection of Scottish Society that we seem to think that being offensive is a manly thing. It is not. It is a moronic thing.

    • Denise


      Six years of hell at high school. Rumours when your father goes to live with you. Regardless of anything homosexuality should not be condemned between two adults.

      You could surely have done without that stuff.

      Well done on coming through it, but is it right that people with less resilience should face the same without whatever kept you going through it. I have an inner cussedness that some better people don’t have but. In truth it would be a better world if we could nurture more of them than my type.

      The cruelty you suffered does not make racism and sectarianism acceptable. The sash may have been a warm fuzzy feeling but in truth a sectarian song. Why did you join in?

      I see no reason to shout OUH far less OUH, OUH, OUH in a harmless non racist context.

    • Bill

      Early 80s in a London pub: My 2 mates (both Rangers fans) started singing The Sash in an effort to wind me up (purely for a laugh, not to offend!)

      I ended up dancing on the pool table, singing along, until the poor buggers realised that I knew more of the words than they did; they got the right hump…

    • Monti

      You will also be aware that East end park is regarded as ‘holy ground’ within the local St.Margarets catholic church, East end park being the spiritual mass gathering point of priests,nuns and congregation for the mass march to St.Margarets Chapel in the town in the 60’s? P.S. Fuck the Sash!

  2. Night Terror

    Quite right Paul.
    Crimping of free speech is often allowed to sneak through due to offensive or undesirable outbursts being what other people do.
    If only there was a law that prevented them from saying such awful things.

    The assumption that nothing I might utter could possibly be worthy of legal sanction, because I am simply not that type of person, and anyway it’s all banter, tongue in cheek stuff, no harm meant etc is complacent.

    It may be difficult to revel in hearing the public expression of opinions and phrases that one find offensive or distasteful, but I’d encourage everyone to enjoy the sweet sound of freedom of speech the next time you hear someone saying something crude and idiotic in public where no one is harmed in the process.

    The Offensive Football Behaviour bill is a farce. How could it be revoked or altered to make better?

  3. zoyler

    Given the mental contortions eminent Scottish Judges are capable of any result is possible!

  4. Four boys had a dream , to form a football team , they had no money , no kit , not even a ball , but still they went on , and Rangers were born 54 titles and their dream it lives on and on and on and on and on on on on………….. there hows that for freedom of speech ?

    • On and on and on…..And then they died! How’s that?

    • KennyE

      I like it Mr Carson. Yes that is freedom of speech. You must admit that there were some dark periods during those 140 years. Like the sectarian signing policy. Like the riots in Barcelona, Manchester etc Like the inability to reach the final of Europe’s premier tournament whilst their poorer neighbours reach two. Like the operation of an aggressive tax avoidance scheme that Celtic rejected as morally wrong. Like the hubris of Murray that led to millions of pounds worth of creditors being let down, and him leaving the club in the hands of a very dubious figure (I mean Green not the feckless Mr Whyte).
      My favorite expression of freedom of speech came from Ian Archer, that very fine and dignified sports journalist, who said about Rangers: “ a football club they are a permanent embarrassment and an occasional disgrace”. The sectarian signing policy may have been consigned to the past but in my opinion Ian Archers’ statement is as true today as it was in the 70s and 80s.

    • Monti

      You are a fucking moron Carson! Free speech,just saying.

  5. mick

    oldco newco cheats and financial dopers the div3 title is tainted due to over spending on spl players for a div3 setup fixed league, sideletters (dont show timmy) fixed the league via paying less tax everything fixed for the special 1s lol and they are special deluded and via this it makes them hypersensitive to any critisisum or wrong doing put to them to celebrate a guilty in football about financial doping shows how deluded they are they are destructing from within as we speak they are second class now afterthis in sport and will be seen as cheats forever and will never recover due to greed and a unhealthy fixation on getting 1 over on timmy they are scum in my eyes not only in sport but bu8siness to and anything else they are invovled in cheats dont just cheat in sport they do it every time they can sevco really are the scum of the earth celebrating a guilty and a fine thats what commen criminals do the joke of sport and a stian on humanity sick sinsister vile perarage imbisilies

    • Wow Mick ! I bet your glad you got that off your chest eh ? Are you still in a huff ? I already told don’t blame us , blame the intellectually superior who spun you a yarn , the intellectually superior told you what the punishment ( one of nineteen btw) BEFORE the trial and the VERDICT ! But I’m glad to see your not bitter about it and letting it eat away at you , good show old bhoy , btw interesting to read big bad john fartson saying he would bet dodgy deals go on all the time in football ! Does he know something we don’t ?

    • cam

      Now that giant paragraph is a crime against any kind of speech mick,and completely off topic.
      Paul, like the rest of us,is fed up with all this football related nonsense, and is trying manfully to widen our range of topics to discuss.
      He gives a good example of one of your fav. insults mick,,,Hun.
      Now, we thick Bears have been listening to that for decades and giving it back in spades with our own childish responses.
      25 years ago Ricky Fulton could do a very funny sketch about Rangers signing policy,,,now its deadly serious.
      Robbie Coltranes portrayal of Mason Boyne was funny and indeed ridiculed the flute blowers.
      The tit for tat game is now being played, as both tribes jockey for position on the world stage,,,only thing is the world is not interested in our little squabble.
      I take offence to your usage of the word imbecile.As a fully paid up,card carrying imbecile,i find this as a grave insult and will scan the legislation to capture you in my offended net.
      How would you like it if i called you a rotten speller?

      • Joe

        Leave it out, you know it was cheating, we know it was cheating, the whole footballing fekin world knows it was cheating and you got a free pass with it due to playing with words, information that would have proved your guilt was withheld and you got away with it, fair do’s buddy, wallow in your ignorance and celebrate your tainted titles but we all know what you are, nothing will change that, your filthy team have marked Scottish football forever as a cheats charter, hope you’re proud of yourselves.

  6. Mick , can you answere my question ? Do do you think fartson knows something by saying dodgy deals probably go on all the time in football ?

    • onthebaw

      I believe big John was referring to his Ibrox medical, apparently when he refused to agree to ebt’s the excuse that he didn’t sign was that he failed a medical.

      As we all know he later sailed through a medical at Celtic Park and indeed went on to score more than 100 goals for the parkhead club,
      including quite a few against the Ibrox club.

      Many of whom still remain bitter and often refer to Mr Hartson
      (in a childish way) as fartson)

  7. mick

    cheating scum and yous know it guilty to all charges and slapped in the wrist yous are doomed from now on your new owners will take care of that yous need help to beat celtic for 10 years a hope yous rot in hell and eternially burn .its a whitewash its not the end of it as it there for all to see

  8. mick

    disfuntional is the only word to describe yous with scum at the end and to calvinise this all you have to do is look at there reaction to being found guilty and fined for cheating its similiar to criminals going to court getting found guilty but getting a fine and not a jail sentance sick sinister and vile is the only words for it

    • cam

      Thats correct mick,remember when the SFA wanted to throw the book at Lenny for his disgraceful behaviour and gave him an 8 match ban.
      Mr McBride drove his coach and horses straight through the SFA’s rulebook and got it reduced on a technicality,,,,sounding familiar?

    • Firstly my apologies to Paul for posting off (an excellent) topic.


      The LNS findings seem to have caused you something of a problem and I think you are over-reacting.

      Rangers were indeed found ‘guilty’ on the questions asked.

      LNS was not asked for an opinion on fairness or otherwise of having more money to spend on players. The accepted opinion is that having more money to spend on players is an advantage. This is professional football after all, money, spent wisely on good players wins. That’s true for every team, it’s true for Rangers and it’s true for Celtic.

      Having more money is not cheating. You may have questions about the morality of where the money came from or even if sport should be reduced to something as base as financial muscle however LNS was not asked for an opinion on this.

      LNS was asked for an opinion on rule breaches made by Rangers in registering players, he found that indeed there were rule breaches, ‘guilty as charged’.

      An outcome of this was that despite deliberate failure to disclose the full earnings of the players in question, those players were still registered by the football authorities and therefor eligible to play, hence Rangers did not in this respect cheat.

      Had the football authorities been aware of the absence of full disclosure of payments then registration of the players in question would have been revoked and they would have been ineligible to play. This did not happen.

      LNS was impeccable in his logic. The result was highly critical of those controlling Rangers at the time but correct in it’s final judgement.

      The question now for footballs’ authorities is firstly how did they manage to miss so much wrong doing in the registration of players and secondly what are they doing to prevent it happening again?

      For Rangers fans celebration in not having titles stripped is at least expected if a little tasteless given the extent of wrong doing found by the commission.
      Rangers were presented with an open goal, and they put that ball in the back of the net.

      For me it matters little, I’m of the old fashioned ‘ it’s the taking part’ that counts school.
      Some people in Scottish football have rather lost sight of this which is why so many of our smaller clubs are maligned or dismissed as being unimportant.
      this is a pity, our smaller clubs contain within them, sporting integrity, honesty, community spirit and indeed charm.
      They will never trouble the top leagues or threaten the European Champions they simply don’t have the money.

      Those who do have the money or access to anyone else’s money will face all the temptations that go with it. Rules can be circumvented if they are not robust. The cracks will be found by those with wealth and the power that goes with it.

      For lovers of sport this is nothing to be proud of, rather it’s a cause for dismay.

    • david

      ” Disfunctional”
      Does ” calvinise” meant to inject the teachings of the reformer John Calvin?
      In that case you might have a point. I suspect you meant galvinise?

  9. Budweiser

    Ah well, onto the league cup final.

    • cam

      Too bad Bud,i was a Saint for today.
      It seems as if was close?
      I didn’t follow it,i had to tidy up after the NOT GUILTY verdict.

      • Den

        Which verdict was that ?

        • cam

          The LNS one Den,,,,yeah,yeah,i know,i’ve read,i’ve understood,4 charges,4 guilty’s,pressure groups springing up ,Mr Ogilvie is a c***t,some guys in a blog site have worked out where the LNS experts went wrong,just like they said the Poonster was right and the other two were wrong,blah,blah.blahdeblah,,,,,
          The titles aren’t going anywhere Den,you, Lenny and billions of CFC fans can rabble on all you like and then wake up to reality.
          Have lots of fun watching the Juve ragdoll your team.
          We have a title party to organise,for the 55th time!

          • Den


            You certainly went off on one.

            Now to be absolutely clear, I never mentioned Mr Ogilvie and would never use that word to describe him or anyone else. Yours is the first reference to him in such terms I have seen on this blog and hopefully the last.

  10. mick

    seek the truth reject false hood CAL

    • cam

      Mick,whats the feeling like in the work hut?
      I would be whistling the Great Escape all day and wear a Lord Nimmo mask.
      Are you throwing a sickie?

  11. Mick , I’m getting the strange feeling your not happy ! I can lend you a copy of my helicopter Sunday dvd to watch , would that cheer you up ?

  12. cam

    I’m gonna tread on thin ice here folks but Bear with me.
    It does seem to me that any questioning of the Pope is one of the few remaining taboo subjects left.
    If a complete stranger, posted in here, and questioned the Pope’s role.when he was a Cardinal,in the CDF,then he would be viewed with great suspicion.
    It does appear going by news reports that the lid is about to blow on many aspects of the Vaticans politics,so i’m not going to stick my oar in any further.
    For the removal of any doubt,i think that anyone of any faith who devotes their life to prayer,God and good works is cool in my book.
    And i thought that John Paul II was a great wee guy.
    Many people are just waiting to be offended, and all of this chemical pollution and modern life must be making our skin thinner.
    Ok,have i offended anyone?

  13. Adam

    My goodness….there is real hurt and pain in some peoples posts today. 🙂

  14. cam

    Paul,can you get me one of those judges wigs?
    Mrs Cam wants me to dress up as Lord Nimmo.I’ve got a rubber mallet and an old Batman cape.
    If you get me one i’ll stop posting for,,,, mmmmm,,,, 40 mins!,,how does that sound?

  15. ccl

    I note that reg 1(2)(e) makes it an offence to engage in behaviour, which a reasonable person would find offensive.
    A “reasonable person” at a football match??

  16. iain

    Micks had one too many whilst watching Sellick toil at Love street

    • Budweiser


      No wonder Saints lost. They were playing at the new stadium whilst celtic were at love st. And we still lost.

  17. cam

    With all these Mr Men about in Pauls post,mick is Mr Grumpy.
    Imagine if we applied our current(not currant) laws to the 70’s tv comedy shows.
    Love thy Neighbour,Alf Garnett,It Aint alf Hot,,,,,
    We couldn’t laugh without a lawyer approving it first.

    • Ok then, to put everyone in a much better mood ……. Try this one ……. (it has been viral tested and is ok ….. newtz) …… so here we go ….

      Open Chrome or Firefox browser ……. NOT Microsoft Inernet explorer …. the fuds !)
      Go to YouTube
      Type in ……. do the harlem shake
      …………. brilliant …………. Enjoy…
      maybe’s we should all do it at the stroke of say nine tonight …. a mass shake ………. lol ………….. yes i’m nutz ….. i’ve admitted it before !

  18. Martin

    When did sticks and stones stop being relevant? We teach that to children, why can’t adults keep it going lol

  19. Raymilland

    contraventions plural of con•tra•ven•tion
    An action that violates a law, treaty, or other ruling.

    “Rangers FC did not gain any unfair competitive advantage from the contraventions of the SPL Rules” – LNS

    LNS acknowledged that RFC did contravene the SPL rules.

    LNS has deemed that any competitive advantage was not unfair due to the simple fact that the administrators failed to consider the validity of said registrations in response to the said contraventions of the SPL rules.


    “Given that we have held that Rangers FC did not breach Rule D1.11 by playing ineligible players, it did not secure any direct competitive advantage in that respect.”


    Stewart Regan calls for line in the sand:

    “The whole focus for Scottish football over the last 12 months has been about doing what’s right for the good of the game. It’s not about trying to find scapegoats to take responsibility for what’s happened in the last 12 months.”

    Responsibility? Now there is a novel concept. Any scapegoat would deflect from the truth of the matter, the individuals responsible for the 5 way agreement would be a good starting point in respect identifying the real culprits in this shambles.

    I’m away for a right good shamble.

    Good evening gents

  20. mick

    its over for sevco what now div 3 thats all .they celebrated cheating like a cup victory as that is all they have ,now its not in the media they are just a low league team being conned by spivs they are proven cheats and no matter how much spin jabba puts out thats what will go down in history as cheats and a dead club thats what came to light there nothing and always have been and always will be all the bullying worked for them LNS proved he is spineless aand that intimidation and wrong doing is the way to go in this country ,heres to ten in a row now they have to compete on a level playing field and heres to green conning them for every penny he can get for the secret backers that know 1 knows about mental state of affiars

    • come join the harlem shake fest mick ….it’s great fun … me and cam are rockin’ …..

      • ….. and then we’re going to Mass …………

      • mick

        theres no line in the sand for me a would not dance with yous even if it was to be the last dance on earth,rocking in div3 div 2 then div1 then the dance will be over and yous will be skelped all over scotland and laughed at for 10 years of cheating then dying lol yous are the joke of the planet not just in sporting terms but on a whole

        • mick …. for clarification ….. i am most certainly not a Rangers fan …..
          but can’t resist a good shake …….. it’s deffo helping me get over recent events …… hey, where’s @Willy by the way ?

          • hey mick …… you’re not the pieman are you !, that must have been Mick …. either way did you see the Hearts scoop ….. brilliant ….
            Re-post from earlier …..

            … Big news from the SPL, where Hearts have stolen a march on mick and their rivals by launching a phone app which allows fans to order their half-time pie from the comfort of their seats.

            Statement :
            “Supporters seated in the upper sections of the Wheatfield Stand will have the unique opportunity to use their Android or iOS smartphones to skip the queues and have their food delivered direct to their seats, ensuring that they don’t miss a minute of the action on the pitch.”

            Brilliant ………..

          • portpower

            @wiily`s having a cognac and cigar with LNS in the smokey Chamber of Reflection room.

        • Adam

          More bigotry from mick. And yes i do mean the true definition.

  21. mick

    Celtic Football Club Statement

    By: Newsroom Staff on 01 Mar, 2013 17:45

    Following yesterday´s SPL Commission decision, we have been inundated with requests for the Club to make its position clear:

    Celtic FC has today made the following statement:

    We note yesterday´s decision that Rangers FC has been found guilty of contravening the SPL rules on disclosure of payments over 11 years between 2000-2011. The scale of this amounts to a deliberate non-disclosure of £47 million in payments to players and staff. We also note the penalty of £250,000 which has been imposed.

    Like many within Scottish football, including supporters and other observers, we are surprised by the parallel conclusion that no competitive advantage was gained from these arrangements.

    However, the implications of this verdict are for the Scottish football authorities to address since the rules breached were specifically intended to defend “sporting integrity”.

    Throughout this matter, Celtic has refrained from comment on the affairs of Rangers FC while the various tribunals and commissions went about their work.

    We will continue to concentrate on our own affairs, and assure our supporters that at all times we will operate within both the rules of our governing bodies and the law of the land.

    Our Club is in a great place at the moment and we are enjoying a fantastic season, maintaining our position at the top of Scottish football and enjoying huge success and profile across European football.

    We ask our fans to unite with us once again as we look ahead to the rest of the season, to the Scottish Cup on Saturday, to the UEFA Champions League next week and to an exciting future with a young squad of high quality players and a talented manager in Neil Lennon.

    Our fans have been magnificent this season, home and away, and as we head towards the end of the season, now, more than ever, we need our fans to be with us and to back the team and the Club. We sincerely thank our fans for their continued support.

    regan take heed there is no line in the sand

    • cam

      Jeez mick ,that looks like a begging letter to the Green Seat Brigade.Lennon probably got told to haud his wheesht.
      Your very surprising foul mood has me worried for you mick.It does appear that your heart is black, and full of hate where the Gers are concerned.
      One of my fav. players was King Kenny and when he went to Liverpool i loved watching him and all the other Scots players in England.
      I’ve never hated CFC or its players.I don’t like the actions of many of Celtic’s fans,mostly the daft wee boys who sing about Ireland but couldn’t point to it on a map.
      I don’t like Neil Lennon’s public persona and if someone told me, a ginger headed,dyed in the wool, Celtic midfielder would manage Celtic and win things i would have preferred it to be Tommy Burns.
      Mrs Cam loved wee Tommy, and her Gers hero Ally, was thought of highly enough by Tommy’s wife,that he along with Walter were given the honour of carrying Tommy to his final resting place.
      I’m pretty sure that Ally and Neil won’t ever have that bond, and it is pretty damning evidence IMO, that the desire held by many Celtic fans to see Rangers,dead,buried,finished is a testimony to the growing hostility that i fear will take generations to overcome.
      Cheer up mick,enjoy 15 in a row.

      • jimmy white.

        There was no unfair advantage he said, ha! what of the millions of pounds they received for automatically qualifying for the group stages of the champions league which was spent on strengthening the team for the next season, multi millions they wrongfully gained but they didn’t act unfairly lol.. Don’t seem all that fair when they used players they otherwise couldn’t afford to wrongly deny others who were playing the game in the sporting manner that it should be played, wonder if any of their European opponents are feeling a bit sore about this whole sordid business.

    • yourikis

      Pissing myself LOL at your post

  22. Paul,

    If I may comment on your post with some law free, not to say lawless comments.

    Essentially human beings are capable of causing vibrations in the air which are picked up by small motions in the ear of other human beings. These vibrations in the air by learning transmit meaning which can be understood by others.

    It is a remarkable effect of evolution that something which first was a detector of motion indicating the presence of a predator or prey became a more sophisticated means of conveying meaning.

    Conveying meaning once language evolved seems straight forward but language also evolved and became more sophisticated. Irony and sarcasm are examples of ways in which people like to play with or disguise the meaning of the words they use.

    Offence caused by something said is a tricky idea to pin down for those who would frame laws.

    It is possible to cause offence by something said without breaching any law. “that’s an awful shirt you are wearing”, “that hair style doesn’t suit you”.
    By not breaching any law I mean that no one has ever taken such an insult to court and won damages (I think /hope).

    Things said can however be actually harmful, they can degrade, demean and undermine the recipient. Evolution has provided us with a means of communication way beyond presence detection, it can convey information and emotion. It can also be a destructive weapon.

    The law must guard against actual harm caused by use of language however, the perception that a word or phrase in itself causes harm whatever the context or location seems unreasonable to me. It also seems unreasonable to select a particular event like a football match for special attention. People who go to football matches invariably go elsewhere, they shouldn’t be subjected to different laws or different interpretations of the same law.

  23. Alexander Doherty

    I am so glad the newco have not been burdened by the fine on the oldco you cannot take titles from a defunct outfit .
    Looking foward to the newco starting there journey into the new world of great football clubs in the years to come they may even get to play them
    Titles nil history nil good luck in the years it might take to win any thing I can tell it feels GREAT.
    Best of luck newco???????? Z

  24. For the record,
    I will not be offended by any language, accusation or statement used in debate against any comment I make, or me. That goes for any extent I can imagine.
    I am of the opinion that the right to offend trumps the right not to be offended.

    However, on this blog, Paul’s decision holds above mine.

    • Carl31

      While I agree with you in principle, there were certain comments made 2 posts back that really went beyond the pale, as a consequence of which I have made the decision that I will not interact with those who made the comments ever again.

      • Maggie

        Good man rab.As you may know I too refuse to interact or respond to
        ANYTHING the troll commander and his minions post,no matter
        the provocation.

        I think I know which of their posts you are referring to…..completely
        heinous and so completely them….their families must be SO proud
        of them.

        • @Maggie

          As I’m sure you’ll agree, any right-thinking individual, of whatever hue, would denounce the maggot making those comments for what he is but, surprise surprise, nary a word said.

  25. lordmac

    would it be taken in the same context if i would have said where is the fxinx Queen and i would defy any judge if the words where the f is allah

  26. portpower

    This freedom of speech is confusing. Can we allowed to tell jokes any more?

    A Scotsman walks into a pub and takes a seat next to a very attractive woman.

    He gives her a quick glance then casually looks at his watch for a moment.

    The woman notices this and asks, ‘Is your date running late?’

    ‘Naw naw love’, he replies, I just got this state-of the-art watch, and I was just testing it..’

    The intrigued woman says, ‘a state-of-the-art watch?

    ”What’s so special about it?’

    The Scotsman explains, ‘It uses alpha waves to talk to me telepathically.’

    The lady says, ‘What’s it telling you now?’

    Well, it says you’re not wearing any knickers.’

    The woman giggles and replies, ‘Well it must be broken because I am wearing knickers!’

    The Scotsman smiles, taps his watch and says, ‘Ach, the bloody thing’s an hour fast!’

    I know freedom of speech is out the window when men get asked that dreaded question. “Does my bum look big in these pants?”
    Freedom of speech = Lonely night.

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