CHANGED days indeed and most peculiar, mama, as John Lennon might have put it. Time was court reporting was one of the last bastions of old-fashioned, proper reporting. No lies, no bells, no whistles – all you could report was what was said and that was it because, well... because you’d get into a world of trouble if you did anything else. And if the red tops usually picked the juiciest bits up and ran big with them, there was never anything in there that was other than kosher.
Which is why BBC Scotland’s online coverage of the trial of two men accused of plotting to kill Celtic boss Neil Lennon and two other Celtic-linked public figures has given Squinter such pause for thought. The court heard that one of the men, Trevor Muirhead (43), on his arrest last May was quizzed by Detective Constable David Thomson about his alleged involvement in sending suspect packages: “Did you send them [the packages]?” and “Did you know what was in them ?” Muirhead replied: “I knew there was packages getting made up supposed to be as a hoax for Neil Lennon, that was aw I knew aboot it.”
No, you didn’t read that wrong. The quote was in a Scottish accent. And there was more...
Asked whether a person to whom he had supplied two bottles of peroxide was his co-accused, Neil McKenzie (42), BBC Scotland reported that Muirhead replied: “I would agree with you there, aye, it’s pretty accurate, but I’m no’ saying it is and I’m no’ saying it’s no’.” Muirhead continued: “I know the parcel tae Neil Lennon went fae Saltcoats, right.”
Now Squinter has no idea whether this Scottish accent was inserted into Muirhead’s alleged statement by the Strathclyde police or by a BBC reporter, but whatever the case, he’s never seen anything like it before and he rather doubts whether anyone reading this has either. Which is a pity, because if trials here were reported like that they’d be much more fun. “Ah nivver done it so Ah nivver” would have been a court reporting staple in years gone by, as would “It is my boinden duty to protect Noel ’n’ Alan frahm detehmined terrorists like the man who stends befaw me.”
In England, the report in the Times about the Kray twins trial would have read like an Eastenders script and in the Indo those Dublin gangland trial reports would have been a bleedin’ deadly buzz, roigh’?
The strange part about it all is that it was only the poor defendant Muirhead whose accent was included in the reporting of the trial. Neil Lennon’s Lurgan brogue wasn’t considered worthy of inclusion, for instance, and neither were the educated and dulcet tones of either defence or prosecution counsel.
Jings, crivvens, help m’boab! It’s enough tae put ye aff yer heid.