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Parcel bombs which were sent to Celtic manager Neil Lennon, his lawyer and Scottish Labour politician were real and designed to cause harm, Strathclyde Police said today.

Officers have launched an investigation after the parcels were sent to Neil Lennon, Paul McBride QC and MP Trish Godman, sources said.

They were initially thought to be hoax packages but analysis has revealed that they could have worked.

Strathclyde Police Detective Superintendent John Mitchell said sending the packages was a ”despicable and cowardly act”.

A package addressed to Lennon was intercepted at the Royal Mail sorting office in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire, on March 26.

On March 28 a parcel for Trish Godman was intercepted at her constituency office and on April 15 a package was intercepted en route to Paul McBride, who has represented Lennon at Hampden during his dispute with the SFA.

A police source said: ”They were viable devices designed to cause harm.

”We are treating the matter very seriously.”

Asked yesterday how he was bearing up under this latest development, Lennon replied: “Fine, but it is a nuisance.”

Mr McBride said: “I must say that I have enjoyed more tranquil passages.”

Last week Lennon’s lawyer made a scathing attack on the disciplinary procedures of the Scottish Football Association which prompted the governing body of football in Scotland to threaten to sue him.

Ms Godman, who is stepping down as West Renfrewshire MSP, declined to comment after following police advice.

She has been pictured wearing a Celtic top at the Scottish Parliament, the BBC reported.

A source said of the three packages: “Let’s put it this way – they were rather more potent than the sort of thing that might just singe your fingers if you opened the parcels.”

Strathclyde Police are investigating and have offered safety advice to the intended recipients of the packages as well as to Royal Mail staff and workers in the mail room at Celtic.

It is the latest in a series of incidents targeting people linked with the football club.

Earlier this year packages containing bullets were sent to Lennon and to Celtic players Paddy McCourt and Niall McGinn, all three of whom are from Northern Ireland.

Lennon, 39, has endured threats and abuse during his football career.

He signed for Celtic in 2000, before retiring from the game and later becoming coach and then manager.

He was the victim of a street attack in the west end of Glasgow in 2008.

Lennon won 40 caps for Northern Ireland, but announced his shock retirement from international football in 2002 after claiming he had received death threats from an Ulster paramilitary group.

Scottish politicians have expressed their shock at the latest developments.

SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond said: ”Let us be quite clear – there is a major police investigation under way to ensure that the individual or individuals concerned are identified and apprehended, and then brought to book with the full force of the law.

”We will not tolerate this sort of criminality in Scotland, and as an indication of the seriousness with which we view these developments the Cabinet sub-committee met last Saturday to ensure that the police investigation has every possible support to come to a successful conclusion. We are confident that this will be the case.

”These disgraceful events should remind all of us who love the game of football of what unites us as a community.

”It is time to remember what we value in society, and unite to condemn those who use football as a pretext for their pathetic and dangerous prejudices.”

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said: ”I am shocked and appalled at this sinister development.

”It is vital though that people keep calm and do not let the situation spiral out of control as that would be playing into the hands of the extremists behind this vile act.

”It is outrageous that something like this should happen in Scotland in this day and age.

”Strathclyde Police must have whatever support they need.”

A spokesman for Celtic chairman, Lord John Reid, said the club had been kept fully informed on events and should be making a statement on the matter later today.

Source: Telegraph

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