Ibrox disaster sheriff dies aged 89

Sheriff Irvine Smith QC, pictured outside the High Court in Glasgow, has died aged 89. (Pic - Black and White Publishing)
Sheriff Irvine Smith QC, pictured outside the High Court in Glasgow, has died aged 89. (Pic - Black and White Publishing)

The sheriff who found Rangers FC liable for the deaths of 66 people in the Ibrox stadium disaster of 1971 has died aged 89.

Sheriff Irvine Smith QC died at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on Monday, January 11.

Sheriff Smith, who was born in Falkirk in November 1926, was a well-known face on the bench at Glasgow Sheriff Court from 1963 to 1983, and later presided over cases in Greenock, Dunoon and Rothesay until his retiral from full-time shrieval work in 1992.

His judgement in the Ibrox disaster trial found that the accident, in which 66 people died in a crush on an exit stairway at the east end of the stadium on January 2, 1971, “was due to the fault and negligence of the defenders, Rangers FC”.

The result of the trial - a civil ‘test case’ raised at Glasgow Sheriff Court in May 1974 by the widow of one of the Ibrox victims, Charles Dougan - was agreed by all sides to be conclusive of all the other deaths in the disaster.

Sheriff Smith, who lived near Kingarth on the isle of Bute, was also part of the defence team in five capital murder trials prior to the abolition of the death penalty in England, Wales and Scotland in 1965.

His funeral will be held at the United Church of Bute in Rothesay on Saturday, January 16 at 12.30pm.