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Not a word of contrition from this little tin god.

He is a little man in the flesh. And like so many little men, vain. He arrived late, making us wait for his exalted presence.

No doubt he was checking the medal ribbons on his immaculate uniform or perhaps taking an extra minute to carefully position his thin hair before appearing before his audience.

He finally strode in, the pale eyes looking neither right nor left, ignoring the flash of cameras and TV lights which danced on the polished silver braid and buttons of his rank.

Those badges of the high office which he has tarnished.

Ignoring everything, as he has ignored every criticism and every critic of his conduct.

As he ignored the Simpsons themselves.

They held a press conference, too.

Patsy and Denny in their lawyer's cramped office. Trying to look dignified as the photographers took their pictures and reporters asked them how they felt.

Of course, they had to wait until the great man had spoken first. The man who trampled over their feelings and who still refuses to accept any blame.

The man who went off to massage his ego in Taiwan as an initial damning report on the death of their son was released.

The man who said that this new report was a waste of time and money.

So they waited, as they have waited before for Grampian Police to act.

Their lawyer was only granted permission to attend Dr Oliver's press conference at the very last minute.

Insult added to grievous injury. As if Patsy and Denny still had lesser rights than grand men like Dr Oliver.

Someone asked Patsy what she would like to say to Dr Oliver. But she couldn't speak. She opened her mouth but there were no words and hung her head.

But Denny spoke. Briefly, but with passion and feeling before breaking down.

We were embarrassed and enraged. Not for Denny and Patsy but for the police force which, led by the man with the shiny buttons, had let them down, above all let Scott down.

Because Denny loved his child, this child which was beneath the highly educated Dr Oliver.

Something he showed at his own press conference with his minders all around. The men in suits and badges who said they thought "It hadn't gone too badly".

Maybe they were watching a different farce from the one I witnessed.

The Chief Constable strode to the podium and read from his prepared statement - or rather, his lecture.

Dr Oliver enjoys lecturing.

It was a stunning performance. So stunning that there was an eerie silence throughout.

Who could not be stunned that after all this, after 1500 pages of his force's shame and blame, that still he could not accept any guilt?

Only the click of cameras, the sound of photographers' shoes as they shuffled, trying to capture a flicker of emotion from this little tin god and the occasional trill from a mobile phone broke it.

Nothing broke Oliver.

No words of contrition. Little regret. No crack in a flat voice which got stronger, even strident, as he progressed - before leaving the podium to sit at the table and stare us all down.

As his deputy, David Beattie, spoke, Oliver gazed straight ahead, expressionless.

Occasionally when Beattie sought to condone or explain his force's conduct, he would put on his glasses and read the few words which did not utterly condemn him.

But Oliver's hands were still. As he turned the pages of the damning report, there was not the slightest tremble.

They stayed as rock solid as this man's total belief in himself.

He sat still, almost bored, at the table with its pristine white cloth and the carefully printed name plates of those whose careers must surely end as the life of Scott Simpson ended - in the dust and dirt.

Deputy Chief Constable David Beattie, Chief Constable Ian Oliver, Assistant Chief Constable Peter Wilson - just in case we didn't know who they were.

For once they didn't name Ian Oliver's degree, an error more heinous in his cold eyes than his force's corporate failure.

Nor was there a bowl so Oliver, this pompous Pilate, could wash his hands in reality as much as he did symbolically during this entire case.

At the end he spoke again. He never wavered. He had done nothing wrong. He would do nothing different.

After an hour it was over. He walked out and slammed the door and went off to lecture some more.

Oliver, the man who cannot bend but who can ignore all the evidence.

Patsy and Denny went home too - to weep.

POWER KEEPS HEAD DOWN

THE man behind the report, Lothian and Borders deputy chief constable Graham Power, was keeping a low profile yesterday.

Power, 50, and his team took 10 weeks to examine how Grampian conducted the probe.

Now he is being hotly tipped to take over from Oliver.

A Lothian and Borders spokesman said yesterday: "He has gone away for a couple of days."

Power has also been at the centre of controversy in the past.

He accused the police board of refusing him an interview for a job with the Northern Constabulary because he was English.
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Author:Burnie, Joan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 21, 1998
Words:863
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