DCSIMG

Man charged over touchline attack on Celtic manager Neil Lennon

A MAN appeared in court today over the attempted pitchside attack on Celtic manager Neil Lennon during last night's match at Tynecastle.

• The attacker ran towards Neil Lennon but was spotted by his assistant Alan Thompson, who pulled him off his feet, before police hauled the man to the ground. Pictures: PA

John Wilson, 26, from Edinburgh, was charged with breach of the peace aggravated by religious prejudice and assault aggravated by religious prejudice.

He appeared at a private hearing at Edinburgh Sheriff Court this afternoon. No plea or declaration was made during the hearing and he was remanded in custody.

He was arrested after he clambered over the barrier from the Hearts section of the main stand and charged towards the Celtic boss, who was on the touchline.

The manager, who has had to live with round-the-clock security after death threats in the past, was said to be "shaken" after the incident.

Last night's attempted attack happened after Celtic's Gary Hooper scored the Glasgow club's second goal.

The Glasgow side won the game 3-0 to keep their title hopes alive.

Late last night, the Celtic boss wrote on his Twitter page: "Don't let what happened to me tonight take the shine off a wonderful team performance... I don't walk alone."

A police spokesman said last night: "A number of incidents took place during this match, including some violent disorder.

"Lothian and Borders Police will fully investigate all of the incidents that occurred at the match this evening and will work closely with both football clubs and the SPL."

Meanwhile, two men have been detained by police in connection with an investigation into parcel bombs sent to Lennon and to two high-profile supporters of the club.

Two bombs were sent to Lennon and one each to lawyer Paul McBride QC and former MSP Trish Godman.

The men, aged 41 and 43, were detained under the Explosives Substances Act 1883 after officers raided a number of properties in Kilwinning, Ayrshire at 6am this morning.

In relation to the scenes at Tynecastle last night, Hearts and the SPL have launched investigations.

In a statement, Hearts said: "Hearts is a club which prides itself on its 'football for all' policy and these sorts of actions have no place in the game of football.

"We will give our full support to the stewards and police authorities in the ensuing investigation into the events at tonight's match."

SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We had a delegate at the game who will be giving us a detailed report on the incident. We will also be taking reports from the police and talking to both of the clubs.

"Clearly, this is something which needs to be investigated thoroughly and with urgency. That's exactly what will happen."

He said the incident was "wholly unacceptable" and "disgraceful".

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "This sort of behaviour is utterly unacceptable.

"The Joint Action Group formed after the recent football summit is developing the eight-point plan to present to ministers before the start of the new season to tackle all issues of violence and bigotry in relation to football, because we cannot have the safety of individuals endangered by such mindless incidents, and our national game tarnished."

After last night's attempted attack on Lennon, trouble flared in the Celtic section of the stadium, with fans appearing to fight with police and stewards.

 
 
 

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