Lothians council leader denies he punched man in social club fracas

THE leader of a Lothians council is at the centre of a police probe into an alleged bust-up at a social club.

Midlothian Council leader Derek Milligan has been accused of punching 40-year-old Alan Scott during an argument in the Bonnyrigg Rose Social Club, leading to him being taken to hospital with a head wound.

But the Labour councillor, who represents the Bonnyrigg area, today denied he had lashed out - and said that Mr Scott - who Cllr Milligan said was an SNP activist and the son of a community councillor - had fallen because he was a "drunken idiot" that had been on "an all-day drinking session". Police have confirmed that they are investigating the incident, which happened late on Sunday night.

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The father of the alleged victim, who did not want to be named, said his son had been playing pool with a friend before an argument broke out that led to him being "punched in the face" by Cllr Milligan.

But Cllr Milligan, a former miner who is a long-serving councillor in Midlothian and has been leader of the council since 2007, said: "At the end of the night on Sunday, he was standing at the entrance to the door when I went to the toilet and he was being insulting. I told him to go away but he wouldn't stop."

Cllr Milligan, 51, said the man had previously been barred from the club for abusive behaviour towards him.

He said: "Then his pal came out of the toilet and went out and he leant and pushed the door closed then stumbled through it and clattered into it, then stood up and said 'you're finished'. Then he took a header and hit the floor.

"He fell because he was drunk. He was absolutely intoxicated.

"I know politicians get the blame for everything but he was just a drunken idiot. There was no assault whatsoever."

But the father of the alleged victim insists that Cllr Milligan punched him in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head on the ground. He said: "It was a blow to the head that knocked him down and he smashed his head. He doesn't remember anything about it; all he can remember was that it was Derek Milligan."

When told about Cllr Milligan's comments to the Evening News, he added: "I knew that Cllr Milligan is well associated with the Roses social club, has a lot of friends around him, and would come out with a fabrication.

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"If my son had collapsed, I would like to know why neither Cllr Milligan nor the club did anything to help him - he had to go across Bonnyrigg to a public phone box and call the police, and it was the officers who noticed he was seriously injured and took him to the hospital for treatment. So if he's innocent of this, why didn't Cllr Milligan help?"

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders police can confirm that they have received a report of assault which occurred during the early hours of Monday, July 25 outside the premises of Bonnyrigg Rose Football Club. Inquiries are continuing."