McArthur to question the Justice Secretary over secret sectarianism data

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP will tomorrow question the Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, about the existence of secret sectarianism data and demand he explain why the Scottish Government agreed to keep it confidential.

Speaking ahead of the exchange, Mr McArthur has demanded that the secrecy clauses in the agreement between the Scottish Government, Police Scotland and the SPFL are torn up and the data is released.

The text of the topical question is as follows:

To ask the Scottish Government for what reason it has reportedly agreed with the SPFL to keep information regarding the extent of sectarianism at football confidential, and whether it will publish this data.

A joint investigation by the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Nil By Mouth, uncovered that the football authorities have compiled a database of sectarian incidents at football, following an agreement with the Scottish Government and police, but that in exchange for access to it both agreed to be gagged and keep its contents secret from the public and the Parliament.

The Scottish Government has admitted that its “strong preference” is for the data to be public, but it signed up to the tripartite agreement that saw the SPFL agree to collect the data since the start of the 2017-18 season.

Liam McArthur said:

“We’re told that there is 2 years worth of data monitoring the levels of sectarianism at football. However, under the arrangement devised by the Scottish Government and SPFL, nobody is allowed to see it.

“A government-commissioned independent expert review said this information should be recorded and made public so that there could be an informed debate. Instead, these sectarianism figures are currently locked away at SPFL, government and police headquarters.

“I’m glad the Cabinet Secretary is being brought before Parliament to explain how the government got themselves into this situation. Why did the Scottish Government entrust the football authorities to collate this information if, in exchange, it is bound to keep it secret?

“The secrecy clauses in this agreement need to be torn up immediately and the data released for all to see.”

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