Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 14:14 GMT
Arrest incident ‘closed’, insists SNP

Tartan army The MSP is a keen member of the Tartan Army

The Scottish National Party is playing down the arrest of a senior politician before the England versus Scotland Euro 2000 match at Wembley stadium.

Kenny MacAskill, an MSP and the party’s transport and environment spokesman, was held on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.

He spent the entire duration of the match, which Scotland won 1-0 but lost on aggregate, in the cells after being apprehended by the Metropolitan Police.

There are no hard feelings and the incident is closed
Kenny MacAskill

The Lothians region MSP was neither charged nor formally cautioned by officers and the party said for that reason he was not being disciplined.

Mr MacAskill, who is a lawyer, has issued a statement, in which he said: “There was a simple misunderstanding on the way to the ground.

‘It won’t put me off’

“I was neither cautioned nor charged and was released as soon as the match was over.

“I was really fed up going all the way to Wembley and missing the famous victory, but it won’t put me off going to future games.”

Kenny MacAskill Mr MacAskill: “Slightly boisterous”

He added: “I appreciate of course that the police were being extra-vigilant in their approach to the Wembley match. There are no hard feelings and the incident is closed.”

Publicity vice-convener Nichola Sturgeon, MSP, said: “The SNP expects high standards but Kenny MacAskill hasn’t breached any rules.

“What we have here is a simple misunderstanding. Kenny wasn’t charged or cautioned, he wasn’t even warned. I is not guilty of anything.

“I think in the circumstances the matter should really be drawn to a close.”

‘No incident’

SNP business manager in the Scottish Parliament Mike Russell said: “As far as the party is concerned there is no caution, no charge and no incident.”

The MSP is a keen member of the Tartan Army and was on his way to the fixture which England won 2-1 on aggregate, with another SNP member, Bruce Crawford.

Scotland fan Scotland lost on aggregate

A colleague said Mr MacAskill, 41, had been “slightly boisterous”.

It was understood that the incident took place close to the stadium.

Mr MacAskill was asked to go the police station but rejoined his travelling companions soon after the final whistle.

He was told of the Scotland goal by a police officer while he was being detained.

‘The great Satan’

Alongside his political and legal duties, Mr MacAskill, who is married with two children, has part share of a bar in the Estonian capital Tallinn.

He once jokingly referred to the England football team as “the great Satan” during a party conference speech.

The MSP is a member of the Scottish Football Association’s travel club and a regular at Scotland away fixtures, often organising overseas trips for fellow members.

He has been one of the party’s most effective front bench performers in the early days of the Scottish Parliament and has been tipped as a future leader.

Most recently he subjected Scottish Transport Minister Sarah Boyack to a robust attack over her proposals for Scotland.

He has been viewed as coming from the “fundamentalist” wing of the party which has been critical of leader Alex Salmond’s “gradualist” approach to independence.

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