I see a lot of argument exercised over the weekend on the double-jeopardy issue. Holding an inquiry into an event, then holding another when you don’t get the desired outcome. I have sympathy to a degree with this sentiment, but only within limits. Tax cheats who successfully wriggle out of their responsibilities at a Tribunal, may be called to a second, third or fourth hearing.
This will feel like quadruple-jeopardy, but it’s correct and often needed for the law to apply evenly. It’s also worth noting that the Crown successfully convicted its first double-jeopardy case in November last year, following the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act.
For non-legal cases, such as the SPL Commission headed by Lord Nimmo Smith, there is no double-jeopardy law, either way, the SFA source trying to influence the media late last week into thinking there was, was getting ahead of himself. Any organisation can ask any question of itself at any point.
What the SPFL (formerly known as the SPL) must now ask, is was the Lord Nimmo Smith Commission fit for purpose?
Auldheid, writing on Scottish Football Monitor last year, published his correspondence to SPFL solicitor, Rod McKenzie of Harper MacLeod, suggesting crucial information, requested by McKenzie as part of his case on behalf of the SPL, was not disclosed.
The implication being that McKenzie was unable to reference the material he needed to successfully prosecute his case as the salient information was withheld by Rangers. McKenzie wrote to Rangers on 5 March 2012 asking for relevant information but allegedly did not receive documentation on EBTs Rangers had already agreed with HMRC were incorrect and liable for tax.
The SPL Commission concluded Rangers gained no sporting advantage from their EBTs as, although they found the club acted wrongly in respect of player registration rules, the Commission found that even if the EBTs had been declared, no tax would have been payable, so no sporting advantage was achieved.
We now know that a considerable amount of tax should have been paid (subject to appeal to the Supreme Court), which flips the criteria Nimmo Smith based his decision upon.
I suspect nothing will happen between now and the expiry of the Big Tax Case appeal notification window in early December. Should no appeal be made, the SPFL will need to consider its position.
Football, to a considerable extent, relies on clubs issuing information openly and fully to authorities when required. If a conspiracy to withhold information from an inquiry exists, and is subsequently uncovered, the authorities must consider what action is appropriate.
At the very least, the national association should not be privately promoting a cover-up.
Jim Craig and Brendan Sweeney will be on CQN live from 19:30 onwards on Wednesday to talk about the fascinating topics covered in Brendan’s new book, Celtic: The Early Years. You can ask questions on the blog and Jim and Brendan will get straight back to you.
We’ve held a few of these events before and they’ve always been great fun, especially when we get to chat with one of the men who won the Big Cup. And Brendan, of course!
Ladies, the unique event on the Celtic calendar, Ghirls for Good Christmas Lunch, is now open for bookings. It’s a ladies-only lunch on Saturday, 12 December at the Kerrydale Suite, and I’m told the best day out of the year. You can book tickets, or a table of 10, here. No guys allowed!