This independent witness stated he heard Wilson shout, “Lennon, you fenian bastard”. Sixty-one year old Croy had certainly no interest in making up such a claim, the man merely reported to the jury what he heard. Incredibly, any sectarian aspect to the case was subsequently rejected by the jury.
The indefatigable Paul McBride spoke for many of us when he said, “the verdict was completely inexplicable”. It was a very well presented case, prosecuted by a top class lawyer.
Despite the overwhelming evidence brought to bear against Wilson including television footage, the jury somehow decided to ignore the truth. How could this be? Once again Paul McBride points out; “ I have never heard of a case where an accused person has admitted a crime, the jury is told by his counsel that he (Wilson) accepts that part of the charge and then the jury let him off!”
We get to the heart of the matter when McBride then looks at those who made up the jury in the Lennon case. He stated, “In Scotland we don’t have to have jurors who can read, who can write, who can count and are maybe full of prejudices”.
One can see exactly where Mr McBride was going with this line of thought. Were the jurors illiterate fools or simply bigots? Or perhaps a bit of both? What was there to understand after all? The footage said all that needed to be said. This was not a complex, intricate affair demanding a superb command of the English language. What happened at Tynecastle trackside can be seen on any Scottish high street on a Saturday night after the pubs shut.
McBride’s inference is obvious; the jurors ignored the evidence before them because they had a deep, innate prejudice against Neil Lennon. In analyzing the jury’s deliberations, I have the mental image of twelve large sweaty American men and women holed up in a locked room speaking with thick Mississippi drawls. Substitute the ‘nigger’ for the pape and you get the idea. If their lad was going to get charged it would be on a much lesser charge with any suggestion of racism, carefully expunged from the court records. In this crazy world of perverted values, the victim becomes the accused, and the criminal gets off lightly.
Paul McBride looked at the bigger picture and declared that this verdict has brought the Scottish legal system into disrepute. It undermines the work that the Lord Advocate has tried to introduce with regard to sectarian crime. In short and in layman’s terms, it is okay to punch a pape. You will be safe in the knowledge that if you want to have a go at Neil Lennon, you have people who will form their judgment not on the damage you do to Neil Lennon, but on the fact that Lennon deserves everything coming to him.
There is the obvious question of basic fairness and justice. Just what Neil Lennon must think of this is depressing to say the least. He has been what can only be described as attacked in public, and yet his assailant is not charged with assault.
This is an open invitation for any deranged bigot to have another go at Neil. It also shows the extent of real hatred towards this man. The jury would have been composed of a mixture of people from different classes and genders, they would have been drawn from the east of Scotland and not the west. Clearly the propaganda and vitriol perpetrated by the Scottish media has played a role. I am sure that some on the jury would have been unfamiliar with Neil Lennon and possibly indifferent to football. However, any prior knowledge they may have had would have been formed by the constant negative reporting on the man.
The lack of any media criticism on the verdict was shocking. There was no outrage and no analysis of what it meant for the Scottish game. Once again another nail has been hammered into the Scottish game and there was no reaction from the very people who were instrumental in turning Lennon into a hate figure. One can take their silence as being an endorsement of the verdict.
The irony is that this disgraceful decision is yet another chapter in the anti-Celtic annals. Ironically it makes Celtic stronger as we see that the claims of paranoia are nonsense when measured against the strength of Lennon’s case. Quite literally the rules change when Lennon/Celtic are involved. There is something really quite rotten in Scottish society and it doesn’t just apply to a few tattooed bigots at Ibrox. There are ‘respectable’ people who hate Celtic and its manager for being what they are. We will prevail because we are right and they are wrong.