Saturday, 31 July 2021

Many questions remain to be answered

[What follows is the text a letter by Iain McKie published in today's edition of The Herald:]

As an ex-police officer it is always fascinating to see a colleague (Chris Keegan, Letters, July 28), harking back to the good old days", while blithely ignoring the massive political, social, economic, cultural, philosophical and technological changes that have taken place in the intervening years. I certainly agree with Mr Keegan that the reliance on technology to reduce police presence on the ground in communities, while understandable, is regrettable and to my mind is likely to create an even bigger gulf between police and public.

However, he seeks to support his general thesis by pointing out that we have always had major events such as COP26 in Scotland and all were efficiently dealt with. Interestingly, he cites three such events, the 1981 Hampden football “riot’, the Papal visit in 1982 and the 1988 Lockerbie disaster, to support his alienation thesis.

Coincidentally I was involved in all three events and would be the first to agree that the police plan for the Pope’s visit was carried through efficiently and sensitively. However during the Hampden "riot", as the force media officer, I was one of the very few police officers on the pitch creating an extremely thin blue line between the rioting fans while watching, with some trepidation, various projectiles arching over my head. The next few months spent defending the police planning for the event, in the face of a barrage of political and media criticism, are still vivid in my memory.

As Secretary of the Justice for Megrahi group I am only too aware of the Lockerbie tragedy and while being the first to admit the commitment of front line staff at the scene, and during the aftermath, many questions remain to be answered in respect of the police investigation and eventual prosecution of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

We all reflect on the past in different ways, and of course I respect Mr Keegan’s opinions, but Police Scotland has had to change with the times. When I look at its response to the unprecedented, and at times unfair, operational demands made of it during the current pandemic I believe that, while much has been lost, we still have a police force to be proud of and policing principles worth sharing with the world.


[The following is taken from an item published yesterday on the website of The Bookseller:]

Satirical magazine Private Eye will mark 60 years in October with the release of a celebratory book viewing six decades as they were recorded in its pages.

Private Eye: The 60 Yearbook, by the magazine's journalist Adam Macqueen, will be out on 2nd September 2021—the year which also marks the 35th anniversary of Ian Hislop's tenure as editor.

“From the Beatles to Brexit, JFK to Trump, the moon landings to the Mars landings, it tells the story of the past six decades as they were recorded in the Eye’s pages,” the synopsis reads. “The news stories you remember—and plenty you may have forgotten—are retold in cartoons, covers and the magazine’s legendary spoofs as well as extensive extracts from some of its best-loved features like Mrs Wilson’s Diary, Dear Bill and The Secret Diary of John Major.”

The book also tells the story of the headlines Private Eye made itself, from the earliest stirrings of investigative journalism exposing the Poulson Scandal and Ronan Point, through major miscarriages of justice like the Stephen Lawrence case and the Lockerbie cover-up.

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