Jack Irvine, who occasionally drops by the Sitonfence Speakeasy to make an insightful comment, suggested that Martin Hannan was worth his salt at The National. The following article which was written by Mr. Hannan has not been edited or amended in any way:
“I am about to try and defend a much-misunderstood and put-upon species, the Scottish sportswriter, particularly in regard to a football team called Rangers. You’ll note I use the word ‘team’. That’s because I want to avoid the whole administration-liquidation-sevco-club argument, not because I don’t understand it, but because those people who push the argument pick on Rangers alone when other clubs have suffered similar fates and not received anything like the opprobrium. Google ‘Hibernians’ and ‘Hibernian 1890.’ for a start.
Let me make my opinion on one Rangers subject clear: if the Supreme Court decides that the Court of Session was right to overturn the Tax Tribunals’ previous judgements that Rangers – specifically Sir David Murray’s Rangers – were legally okay to use Employee Benefit Trusts to avoid paying tax, then the Rangers of that era will finally be proven to have cheated both the taxman and the rest of Scottish football.
The consequences should be inevitable. The Scottish Football Association and the Scottish Professional Football League should convene a new inquiry into the nature of EBTs and their usage, then punish all those who used them illegally, if necessary by removing trophies and titles. Remember that Lord Nimmo Smith’s Commission proceeded on the basis that EBTs were legitimate – if the Supreme Court says otherwise then a new Commission has to judge the football case again, because cheating the taxman is cheating football, too.
If the Supreme Court finds against him, Sir David Murray also should be stripped of his knighthood.
The current incarnation of Rangers say they will fight any title-stripping, though presumably not David Murray’s. Their stance is illogical and hypocritical: you can’t claim to inherit the history of a club if you do not accept all the consequences of that history.
Dave King and co are only in charge of Rangers because Murray sold the club to Craig Whyte for £1 before Charles Green arrived on the scene. And wasn’t King involved in the Murray era? That will be the same Dave King who promised tens of millions to get Rangers competitive against Celtic again. Mmmm… To believe some people who opine, usually anonymously on social media and the blogosphere, the Scottish sportswriting mob ignored all this ‘Rangers in trouble’ stuff right through the Murray era and into Green’s bonkers time at Ibrox.
I can assure you, they did not. I was part of that ‘mob’ at the time, and can roughly say that we divided into three parts – those who hadn’t a clue what was going on as they came from a pure sports background and couldn’t tell the difference between a balance sheet and a team sheet; those who were intimidated and bullied by a Rangers that did everything it could to put a lid on scandals; and those whose editors did not want to know, because they feared the loss of Rangers-supporting readers and court action – I’d say the vast majority of us were in that category, as The National wasn’t around to work for back then. We were silenced because newspaper editors and managers did not want a big legal fight with Rangers who made it clear they would resort to their lawyers, a threat I thought was groundless but which was taken very seriously indeed by the high heid-yins.
There are no doubt some of those anonymous non-traditional media types who think we are all still in thrall to Rangers. Oh really?
Have you read Tom English’s stuff on the BBC – who are still banned from Ibrox – or Gordon Waddell’s piece in the Sunday Mail at the weekend? Graham Spiers gets death threats for his stuff, Bill Leckie in The Sun regularly has a pop, and I like to think I’ve done my bit, always from the viewpoint of the fans who, though they often disgrace themselves, are the real story of Rangers’ survival. Here’s a startling fact the anons will probably ignore – newspapers just cannot say and do what they want. They never could, and in these post-Leveson days, they cannot even print hearsay. Which is why most important calls and interviews carried out by journalists are automatically recorded with the big clubs’ press officers ostentatiously taping interviews, too, as if to say ‘don’t dare misquote us’.
It also comes back to the point I made at the beginning, which was that it is editors and owners who set the policies for newspapers, and that is why under founder Richard Walker and Callum Baird, The National has set a distinctive tone in Scottish journalism, encouraging writers to dig for stories and state opinions that would not see the light of day in other newspapers.
In the end, the big decisions are for the officers and not the infantry. That goes for the back pages as well as the front.”
Mr.Hannan should take pause and have a look at what passes for copy at The Daily Record. The aftermath of the Scottish Cup Final was played out on live television. However Keith Jackson was not watching the live feed. He was taking dictation from James Traynor. The Level 5 supremo asserted that each and every Rangers player was assaulted on the field of play. It was a lie which was exposed by Kenny Miller’s wife on Twitter. Jackson ran with it anyway. To compound their ignominy, a junior hack ran with a narrative that Rangers fans were using their children as barricades to thwart a police response. Murray Foote was taken to task on accuracy. The complaint against the Record was upheld by The Press Complaints Commission.
Mr. Hannan highlights that hearsay is not admissible in print, as is the case in court. Yet the junior hack at the Record created a fanciful narrative that was predicated on a tweet. The journalism at the Record can best be described as inaccurate and irresponsible.
Mr. Hannan dismissively refers to the ‘anons‘ and in doing so is having a pop at me: an award-winning social media commentator. Does he also dismiss the Rangers Tax Case ‘anon’ who won The Orwell Prize? If it were not for RTC David Murray would not have been exposed as the cheating tax-evading blaggard we know him to be today. Should Rangers be stripped of the titles they won by foul means, those who value sporting integrity will owe a huge debt to the anonymous individual behind RTC.
I’m writing this article in exile. The death threats against me are real. Those who believe that they know my identity will continue to throw darts at what they perceive to be my image. A paramilitary style attack was planned to blind me with acid and amputate my fingers so as to rule out brail. So don’t dismiss my desire for anonymity Mr. Hannan. The threat of an opportunistic assault is somewhat mitigated by my enforced relocation. How far would you go to avoid being a blind amputee?
You refer to digging for stories and providing opinions that would not see the light of day. I provide real exclusives, such as David Murray’s $1m bribe to Lawrence Marlborough. It’s highly likely that you were given this information as we share the same source, but you chickened out from running with it. If one wishes to be known for fearless reportage, then stick your head above your laptop’s parapet. Hiding behind the skirt of your editor won’t win any awards.
Many of my readers have a penchant for the SNP, despite the fact that Stewart Hosie was David Murray’s IT factotum. Mr. Hosie could not be missed as he had large protruding ears. Running for a bus was challenging for Mr. Hosie as there was a clear and present danger that he would take flight. His moniker, The SNP Kite, was well ear-ned. One assumes that Mr. Hosie had his ears pinned back prior to engaging in his extra-marital ménage a trios with a political hack, whom he was sharing with another Nationalist MP, who was also playing away.
These Nats with their penile portfolios were fond of their afternoon out of chambers rumpy pumpy. They favoured the missionary position prior to the session bell calling them to their knees.
“Friends, Fellow Nats, Countrymem, lend me your ears.”
There have been many comments on this site, which currently number north of 24,000, apropos Mr. Murray’s apparent immunity from prosecution. The Murray Omertà has drawn a veil over his illicit activity of bribery, kickbacks and racketeering.
When David Murray (not yet Sir David) was holding court in the late 80s and early 90s at The Gyle HQ with a never ending stream of visitors including agents, footballers, councillors , bankers and, of course, grovelling journalists, Stewart Hosie was never far from his side. The strange thing is that 26 years later it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find anything on the web that identifies this influential man and his relationship with Sir David. Chapeau to the spin meisters at Bute House
Why is Mr Hosie so coy about admitting his years with Sir David? And, was he still employed there in 1991/92 when the doyen of Scottish financial journalists, Alf Young, ran a devastating exposé In The Glasgow Herald on Murray International which led to the group being swiftly split into two new entities? In fact, Mr Young’s original draft said that Murray International was trading insolvently but the paper’s lawyers took cold feet and the story stopped short of that allegation. When Alf Young left The Herald in 2009 there was never the slightest chance that any of his talentless successors would ever cast such a forensic eye over the Murray empire and the chairman’s plunder of Rangers. The National is a Herald Group title.
One wonders if Mr Murray used his standard interrogation technique with Mr Hosie as he did with every other visitor to his office. It went something like this:-
Murray: “You’re a good looking boy. Have you got a bird on the side?”
Gullible visitor(GV): “Of course not, I’m a happily married man.”
Murray: “Aye, so am I, but I’ve got a bird. You must have a bird. Everybody’s got a bird.”
GV, feeling increasingly flattered that he is getting to spend quality time with this business giant, “Well, I might have a wee bit on the side.”
Ker- ching! That was the moment that Murray had the visitor in his steely grip for ever more.
The trouble was that Murray then delighted in telling the next visitor that his previous (often famous visitor) was shagging Miss or Mrs X.
You could not believe how many people fell for this technique and it might explain the reluctance of certain people to criticise the ‘great man’even now.
What about you Mr. Hannan. Are you stymied by the indiscretions of those higher up The Herald food chain?