Acid-attack journalist says police failure to prosecute crime boss who ordered hit a 'dangerous precedent'

A journalist who had acid thrown at him said the failure of police to prosecute the crime boss who allegedly ordered the attack sets a “dangerous precedent”.

William ‘Basil’ Burns posed as a postman before throwing sulphuric acid at Russell Findlay at his home in Glasgow in December 2015.

Sentencing Burns at the High Court in Aberdeen on Tuesday, Judge Lord Matthews said the 56-year-old had apparently carried out the “vicious, premeditated attack” due to objecting “to something that your victim wrote”.

He said: “The freedom of the press is an essential tool in the armoury of any democracy and attacks of this nature will not be tolerated.”

Findlay, who was investigations editor of the Scottish Sun at the time, overpowered Burns with the help of neighbours.

Burns, 56, from Paisley, Renfrewshire (pictured above) denied the attack but was found guilty of assault to cause severe injury and danger of life following a trial at the High Court in Glasgow. He was sentenced to ten years in jail with five years on licence following release.

Findlay told Press Gazette: “While journalists should welcome the points made by Lord Matthews about the importance of press freedom, speculation that Burns may have been motivated by something I wrote is wide of the mark.

“Following the attack, I quickly established that Burns was a paid hitman, hired by a very wealthy organised criminal who has been the subject of numerous stories by me.

“However, neither Police Scotland nor the Crown Office [Scottish equivalent of CPS] have shown any inclination to bring this man to justice.

“Their apparent disinterest may stem from the fact I was not killed or seriously hurt and that the paymaster is now serving a prison sentence for another, unrelated matter.

“However, it is imperative that a proper investigation takes place.

“A message should be sent to organised crime in the UK that attacks on journalists will not be tolerated. For the authorities to sit on their hands sets a very dangerous precedent.”

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: “A thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the attack was carried out and two men were arrested and reported to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with the incident.”


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