I'm probably showing my age by revealing my admiration for TV Detective series Columbo. A Columbo episode had no “whodunnit” element, but the case was constructed slowly but surely around circumstantial evidence.
Circumstantial or Indirect evidence is inferior to direct evidence – the latter being an eye witness account for example. Nonetheless in the absence of direct evidence, indirect evidence can be sufficient. Perhaps its best summed up by the following definition....
:- evidence that establishes immediately collateral facts from which the main fact may be inferred.
What am I inferring? That the SFA and SPL are guilty of breaching Scottish and European Law, of gross negligence and gross malpractice, of conduct unbecoming of their positions of governors of the Scottish game and acting with both malice and prejudice towards Rangers Football Club.
Lieutenant Columbo's first clue surrounds the events following Rangers going into administration and the conduct of the Scottish Football Association and SPL. Contrary to obeying not only the timeless Scottish principle of law, or more recently the European Human Rights Legislation, rather than presume Rangers innocent until proven guilty, without even being charged let alone tried, the SFA presume Rangers guilty and attempt to impose upon them a package of sanctions which will see the club stripped of honours in return for a place in the Scottish First Division.
A second clue is to be found in the fact that this package of sanctions is far in excess of any sanctions imposed on a football club, even those who have been tried and convicted for far more serious crimes such as match fixing. A quick check of the punishments imposed during the 2006 Italian football scandal serves to underline this.
A third clue reveals that when the Scottish Football League became aware of what the SFA were doing they quickly distanced themselves from any involvement, their spokesperson later telling the press “We were given a first draft of proposed sanctions on June 25 — and we sent it back the same day saying we wanted no part of it. That was the unequivocal SFL stance for a very simple reason — in this country you’re innocent until proven guilty.”
Columbo's fourth clue lies in the conduct of the accused. During a series of meetings with the chairmen of Scottish Football League, Stewart Regan of the SFA conducted himself in a manner which the aforesaid chairmen later described was characterised by bullying, threatening and intimidating behaviour. Furthermore these chairmen later provided documentary evidence in the form of an e-mail which demonstrated that Regan lied during this series of meetings.
A further clue surfaces when the SFA try to impose a transfer embargo upon Rangers. A Scottish Court subsequently rules such an embargo as outwith their remit of sanctions and thus unlawfully imposed.
But the trail of circumstantial evidence does not end there. The team appointed to carry out the investigation into Rangers, Harper MacLeod legal firm, enjoy a favourable business relationship with the club who would be the sole benefactors from the excessive stripping of Rangers titles – Celtic FC. Of course its also entirely circumstantial that a personal testimony on the Harper MacLeod website, from the Celtic Chief Executive praising the firm for their stalwart service to Celtic FC, was mysteriously removed around the time questions were being asked about this firms suitability.
But even then the trail does not go cold for our Lieutenant. Because the SFA then seem to get confused about the role of Harper MacLeod – in one newspaper article they claim the company is leading the investigation, but as questions are raised as to this company's suitability their role seems to change, according to the SFA, to one of “low level” information gathering.
But alas, no coffee and doughnuts for our intrepid detective yet.
For the legal expert appointed by the SPL, Lord Nimmo, then attempts to clarify why the SFA and SPL have a legitimacy to bring Rangers to account as a non SPL club, when their articles and regulations seem to indicate otherwise. In doing so the very learned Lord Nimmo inadvertently confirms that the conduct of his paymasters, the SFA & SPL was wrong in how they treated Rangers membership of the SPL.
While many of us will forever associate the late Peter Falk with the role of Columbo it was actually an actor called Bert Freed who first appeared in the role.
And it's purely circumstantial that one of Freed's first appearances as Columbo was in a teleplay entitled “Enough Rope”.
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