the Ropes - Donald Findlay QC
Tuesday 2 July,
9.00am, BBC Radio 4
this week's On The Ropes (BBC Radio 4, Tuesday 2 July, 9.00am, repeated
at 9.30pm), Donald Findlay QC tells John Humphrys about the effect
singing sectarian, anti-Catholic songs at a party for Glasgow Rangers
had on his life, and how he, at one stage, even contemplated suicide.
Scottish advocate, a supporter of the football club from the age
of three, describes how his role as vice chairman at the Club was
"almost a fantasy that came true".
And then, he says, he blew it. He describes being filmed singing
songs at a huge party to celebrate Rangers winning the Scottish
cup as a moment of madness: "The team were there, the players
were there, songs were sung, not by me initially but by others,
and I joined in."
action led to him being found guilty of professional misconduct,
and he resigned as vice chairman at Rangers.
He says many, many people view the songs as sectarian: "But
for 90 to 95 per cent of people who would sing these songs and have
sung these songs they are not sung in any way as being anti-Catholic,
nor are the words meant in the sense that you actually believe them.
that was, I suppose, an appalling naivety on my part and I'd failed
to take on board that I should have known better, and of all people
who shouldn't have done it, it was me, and that was why I resigned."
says his first reaction to the news headlines was that it was an
absolute load of nonsense. But he also then, and now, says he deeply
and bitterly resents the publicity which claimed that he was the
kind of man that would sing such songs, because he defended a couple
of men accused of sectarian violence.
"I have defended the IRA, I've defended the UDA, I've defended
black people who have killed white, white who've killed black, men
who've killed women, parents who've killed children, children who've
killed parents, protestants who've killed Catholics and Catholics
who've killed protestants, just what am I actually against, the
whole damn world?
"But then you take out of all of that, of hundreds and hundreds
of murder trials that I've defended over the years, you take out
a couple of examples and you deliberately present it in a way, and
say that proves this man is something because of that.
was deliberately done and it was a lie and I will never ever forget
or forgive those responsible for that lie."
publicity surrounding events had a huge effect on him and he became
very depressed. He had been Rector at St Andrews University for
six years and was supposed to receive an honoury degree from them,
and says one of things that perhaps hurt him the most was the fact
that they took that from him.
He says he felt very, very lonely, and reached a point in time when
he wondered whether everything was worth it, because it just didn't
seem to go away: "Youd have thought it might have been
a seven day wonder or a two week wonder, but it went on and on and
on and on, and it just got to the stage I thought well I really
don't know if I want this any more."
seriously considered taking his own life, and had the pills to do
so, but when the night came when it was decision time, he decided
he wouldn't do it.
He says one reason that made him change his mind was the people
who he cared about, but the other reason was that he didn't want
his suicide to be used in any way further to damage or discredit
either St Andrews Unversity or Rangers Football Club.
was damned if I was going to let them portray me as the vice chairman
who had discredited both and then did something that I believed
they would have presented as a cowardly act and just added on to
it 'and he was a coward'. So I put all that together, picked up
the pills, chucked them away, uttered a four letter word followed
by the lot of you, and decided to try and fight back," he tells
On the Ropes.
if he is glad he made that decision, he hesitates and says "yes".
says he puts this down to the fact that he is still living with
the consequences of his actions: "The fact that it is still
there today, and I suppose I know that when they write the epitaph
it will feature, that just momentarily makes you hesitate."
Radio 4's On The Ropes should be credited in any copy used.