Justice Committee backs Lib Dem demands for transparency from Doncaster on sectarianism data

On the back of the Scottish Liberal Democrat-Nil by Mouth investigation into secret sectarianism data compiled by the SPFL and withheld from the public and the Scottish Parliament, Holyrood’s justice committee has today written to Chief Executive of the SPFL, Neil Doncaster, calling for the report on sectarianism at football to be published.

The Committee’s letter makes clear that “transparency on this matter is essential”.

Earlier this week, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP questioned the Cabinet Secretary for Justice on why the Scottish Government had signed a gagging agreement with the SPFL, despite the recommendation of Professor Duncan Morrow, who called for records of sectarian incidents to be “published annually to allow for a genuine debate about the extent of sectarian behaviour and attitudes in football”.

Liam McArthur commented:

“I’m pleased to see the Justice Committee has backed my calls for the secret data on sectarianism to be published in full.

“This dodgy agreement to keep essential statistics secret, available only to the SPFL, police and government ministers, should never have been signed in the first place.

“Ministers knew before the SPFL started collecting the data that they never intended to make it public, but didn’t force a change of approach. This arrangement might have continued for years, had it not come to light through the joint investigation by the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Nil By Mouth.

“Persistent sectarian behaviour at football is hurting the sport and Scotland’s reputation. It will be impossible to know whether progress towards cleaning it up is being made unless this data is released.”

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