Police discussed prosecution of Sunday Herald over Nazi Orange Order images

Posted By: September 11, 2017

Peter Swindon.  Senior reporter, Sunday Herald, Scotland. Sunday, September 10, 2017

People dressed as Nazis at a party organized by a loyalist flute band and held at an Orange Order hall.

POLICE officers discussed the prosecution of the Sunday Herald after we published shocking images of people dressed as Nazis at a loyalist flute band fancy dress party in an Orange Order Hall.

The revelations come as Police Scotland “escalated” a complaint against an officer who allegedly refused to take details from a woman who called with concerns about the images.

It is claimed that the officer told the complainant she was “easily offended” by the pictures, taken at fancy dress competitions in 2010 and 2013, and should instead focus on the conduct of former Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

She alleges that the officer – and an inspector who spoke to her subsequently – told her that the Sunday Herald could be prosecuted over publication of the images.

When the woman originally complained, it is understood it was treated as an “incivility” matter but after senior officers listened to the call between the officer and the complainant it was escalated to misconduct.

The woman, who has asked not to be named, had attempted to make a complaint to police about images of people at an Orange Hall dressed as Adolf Hitler and wife Eva Braun, posing next to two children dressed in rags branded with a yellow star similar to the one Jewish people were forced to wear by the Nazis. Other participants dressed as Catholic clergy with nooses around their necks and some blacked-up.

She alleges the officer who took the call told her “people can dress up in whatever they want” and said she was “easily offended” and “over-sensitive.” The woman claimed he refused to take details of her complaint, insisting that there was no criminality.

“The police officer then said if I want to talk about offensive behavior I should instead discuss Neil Lennon,” she said.

The woman, who has now notified her MP and MSP, said: “An inspector who is investigating my complaint against the officer said she had listened to the call and was horrified.

“She said his attitude was inexcusable. The matter had been referred to her as an incivility matter, but having listened to the call she is escalating it to a misconduct matter.”

The complainant also alleged that the officer urged her to complain about the Sunday Herald and claimed a second officer also raised concerns about the publication of the images.

The woman said: “The officer mentioned at least three times during the call that the Sunday Herald could be prosecuted for publishing the photos – in fact, he kept telling me to complain about the newspaper – and then an inspector mentioned it last Monday when she called to discuss the case. She made a point of saying the possibility of prosecuting the Sunday Herald had been mentioned throughout the investigation.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland did not respond to allegations that officers made comments about the Sunday Herald.

However, she said: “The complaint against the officer is currently ongoing and once concluded an assessment of conduct will be considered and progressed accordingly.”

When asked about the investigation into people who dressed up the police spokeswoman said: “The matter is being further assessed in terms of whether any offences have been committed as a result of the publication of the article and its contents. If criminality is established, a further report will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal.”