Scenes of thousands of Rangers fans taking to the streets of Glasgow on the weekend of March 6 and 7 were condemned by politicians, with the behaviour of fans labelled “disgraceful” by senior police officers in the aftermath.
John Scott QC, a leading lawyer, was commissioned to undertake a review of the policing approach by Police Scotland and found officers had acted proportionately.
Justice secretary Humza Yousaf also labelled the scenes “shameful”.
The decision to release the documents following a review of an earlier decision wherein Police Scotland officials decided the correspondence was not in the public interest was made as politicians accused the police force of having something to hide.
Correspondence ‘published’ by Police Scotland included discussions between Superintendent Stephen Dolan, the company secretary and director of operations at the SPFL, Calum Beattie, and an unnamed government official.
Supt. Dolan described himself as having “responsibility” for the policing operation on Sunday, March 7, when the celebrations of Rangers fans were at their peak.
Unnamed officials at Glasgow City Council were also in contact with the police ahead of the weekend.
In total, 17 pages of correspondence and agendas were released to The Scotsman following a review, but Police Scotland insisted the decision to redact the documents was due to their contents not being in the public interest.
Responding to the original request, a Police Scotland official said the information would be kept secret due to concerns releasing it would “compromise operational policing”.
Police Scotland refused to answer whether the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council or Rangers FC had influenced the policing decisions around the celebrations
Liam McArthur, the Scottish Liberal Democrat’s justice spokesperson, said the handling of the Rangers celebrations “seriously undermined public confidence” in the pandemic restrictions.
He said: “There is a real public interest in establishing why that happened. That means being upfront and accountable about decisions that were made. Needless secrecy won’t help those efforts."
A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said the secrecy was “typical” of the Scottish Government.
They said: “It is all too typical of the SNP Government that correspondence is redacted or is failed to be released.
“While decisions on policing gatherings like this are ultimately a matter for frontline officers, the public were rightly concerned at the way these crowds were being dealt with. They have a right to know how closely the SNP Government were involved in these decisions.
“That can also help to give confidence that these sort of scenes will be avoided in any future celebrations.”
A Scottish Green party spokesperson said: "Transparency is essential to aiding the public understanding around the use of policing tactics. Publishing pages of redactions helps no-one and reinforces the impression Police Scotland has something to hide."
Responding, a Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We would not release information which would compromise operational policing and provide those intent on committing offences with details of how events may be policed.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While the policing response to events and incidents is an operational matter for the Chief Constable, the Scottish Government has continual discussions with Police Scotland about public safety, particularly around high-risk events like some football matches, and we fully support their actions to keep the public safe during the pandemic.”