Police investigating claims priest spat on during Glasgow Orange Walk

9 July 2018, 07:09 | Updated: 9 July 2018, 07:10

Canon tom white

Police are investigating allegations of assault after the Catholic Church claimed a priest had been spat on during an Orange Walk.

The Archdiocese of Glasgow said Canon Tom White had been speaking to parishioners outside St Alphonsus Church in Glasgow when he was spat on twice, before being lunged at by a man with a pole.

In a statement on Facebook, the Archdiocese said that both Canon White and his parishioners had been "subjected to vile abuse".

It claimed: "The priest was spat upon. Spittle landed on the back of his head. He wiped it away. Another mouthful of thick spittle was spat into his eye socket. Again he wiped it away leaving his hand full of the vile liquid.

"He was then further insulted and lunged at by a man carrying a pole before police arrived to restore some kind of order."

The Church said: "What kind of society is it that allows ministers of religion and churchgoers to be intimidated and attacked by a group which has a long history of fomenting fear and anxiety on city streets?"

It also asked: "Why is the Orange Order still allowed to schedule its intimidating parades on streets containing Catholic Churches at times when people are trying to get in and out for Mass?"

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: "We can confirm we are investigating the assault of a man outside a church at the Barras (area of Glasgow) around 4.20pm on Saturday July 7.

"He was not injured as a result of the assault and inquiries are ongoing."

The spokeswoman stated: "Whilst the parade was passing the church at the time, any involvement, if at all, by someone from the Orange Walk, is still to be established."

Scottish Conservative MSP for the Glasgow region Annie Wells said: "This was a shocking attack against a respected member of the local community.

"Police Scotland must move quickly to identify those involved and bring charges. This abuse will not be tolerated in Scotland."

Labour communities spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: "Father White has shown great courage in speaking out about the attacks he has experienced, for which there can be zero tolerance."

She added: "Anti-Catholic hate crime remains prevalent in Scotland, accounting for 57% of religiously aggravated charges in 2016-17.

"Our communities are safer for us all when we respect one another and value different backgrounds. Scotland must do better and it is right this has been brought to the First Minister's attention."

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "These are extremely concerning reports and it is right that they are being investigated by Police Scotland. I am confident the police will treat this case with the seriousness it deserves.

"Scotland is a diverse, multicultural and tolerant society and any form of hate crime is completely and utterly unacceptable to me and the vast majority of Scots.

"There can be no justification for bigoted or intimidating behaviour and the Scottish Government is determined to ensure people are able to worship and go about their business without fear for their safety."