AN ORANGEMAN has been fined £300 after he was convicted of organising an illegal funeral procession in Motherwell.
More than 200 mourners and a flute band marched in memory of their friend Raymond Ferguson despite a North Lanarkshire Council ban on safety grounds.
Richard Maxwell (45), of Anderson Street, Motherwell, denied an offence under the Civic Government Act, but was found guilty after trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court.
Acting on behalf of Motherwell Orange and Purple Lodge District 25, he had written to the council seeking permission for a procession from Dalziel St Andrew’s Church to Airbles Cemetery in September 2011.
It was to follow the funeral service of Mr Ferguson (54) who had been a member of the lodge for more than 30 years.
Police inspector Keith Strachan said he confronted Maxwell who acknowledged he didn’t have permission.
Mr Strachan said: “I told him he would be reported to the procurator fiscal. He said ‘I understand, but I can’t let these people down’.
“My impression was the march was going to take place no matter what I said. He was adamant.”
Mr Strachan said he was surrounded by mourners ‘haranguing’ him about not being allowed to march.
Eventually he agreed ‘reluctantly’ to offer assistance and the procession went ahead. It stopped short of busy Airbles Road which was the part of the route which had caused police concern on safety grounds.
Outside court Maxwell said he was ‘bewildered’ by the case, adding: “I have a criminal conviction for the first time in my life for trying to carry out the last wishes of a dear friend.
“People were determined to march behind the hearse and there was nothing I could have done to stop them. I attended as a mourner not as the organiser of a parade.”