Bullets also sent to Catholic leader

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland was sent bullets in the post before the papal visit last year, it was reported today.





Cardinal Keith O'Brien received the bullets at his home in Edinburgh, the Daily Record newspaper said.



He told the Record the bullets were "a horrific incitement to violence and deeply regrettable".



Police said they could not comment on the allegations, which came after it emerged that Celtic manager Neil Lennon was twice sent a parcel bomb.



Two more prominent Celtic fans, Paul McBride QC and former Labour MSP Trish Godman, were also targeted.



The club, formed in 1888 by Irish Catholics, draws its support largely, but not exclusively, from Catholics.



Police said the two packages sent to Lennon, and others to lawyer Mr McBride and Ms Godman, were "designed to cause real harm to the person who opened them".



Lennon, 39, has endured threats and abuse throughout his career and was forced to retire from representing Northern Ireland in international football after claiming he had received death threats from a paramilitary group.



He was the victim of a street attack in the west end of Glasgow in 2008 and earlier this year also received a package containing bullets.



Celtic players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt, both from Northern Ireland, were also sent bullets.



Mr McBride is one of Scotland's most-recognised QCs and is a well-known Celtic fan.



Last week he accused the Scottish Football Association (SFA) of bias in favour of Rangers when assistant manager Ally McCoist and players Madjid Bougherra and El-Hadji Diouf all escaped bans for misconduct during an Old Firm Scottish Cup clash at Parkhead.



Ms Godman, who has stepped down as an MSP, was deputy presiding officer of the last session of the Scottish Parliament as well as Labour MSP for West Renfrewshire.



On her final day as an MSP, she was pictured wearing a Celtic football top at Holyrood.



The Catholic Church in Scotland was unavailable for comment.



Police investigating the letter bombs said they want to speak to three people who could have "vital information" about the attacks.



A young couple and a man with a dog were seen walking near a post box in Montgomerie Terrace, Kilwinning, Ayrshire, around 2pm on Friday April 15. A Royal Mail worker intercepted a parcel bomb there which was addressed to Paul McBride QC.



Police said the post box was a "focal point" of the investigation.



The man is in his 30s, wore glasses and a baseball cap and was walking a black and brown Staffordshire bull terrier-type dog.



The young couple comprised a man wearing a black hooded top and a woman described as small and slim. They were walking with a dark-coloured Staffordshire bull terrier-type puppy, thought to be around eight weeks old.



They were described during house-to-house inquiries in the area.



Detective Chief Superintendent John Mitchell of Strathclyde Police said: "We would like these potential witnesses to come forward as they could have vital information which might help our investigation.



"Anything they may have seen or heard on the street at that time could provide us with clues which could lead us to the person or people responsible for these crimes.



"We can't stress enough that any information is of interest to us, something that may seem insignificant could actually be the piece of information we need. If you know something, get in touch.



"The person or persons who are responsible for this have not just caused massive distress and worry to the intended targets, they have also placed the people who handle the mail in harm's way.



"They must be caught and they must be brought to justice."



Police also said they believe no "general threat" has been made to Celtic fans as a whole.



Chief Superintendent Ruaraidh Nicolson said: "I would like to make it absolutely clear that the people who have received these packages appear to have been targeted for comments they have made in recent weeks.



"We do not believe that this is a general threat to all Celtic supporters or other high-profile supporters of the club.



"We are giving appropriate advice to people who we believe should be getting it.



"It is really unhelpful to have lots of media and public speculation as to who has been receiving this guidance. It only serves to create further fear and alarm in our communities."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor