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Offensive behaviour at football act binned by politicians

This news post is almost 4 years old
 

Supporters have been warned that they could still face prosecution for behaving unacceptably

The controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football Act has been scrapped by politicians.

MSPs narrowly voted to repeal the legislation at the Scottish Parliament yesterday evening (Thursday).

Football fans argued that the law unfairly targeted them, however charities have called for politicians and football clubs to work together to ensure hate crimes are clamped down on.

The Scottish Government said that scrapping the bill was a backwards step in tackling sectarianism in Scotland, however opposition parties united to repeal the act.

Dave Scott, campaign director of anti-sectarianism charity Nil by Mouth, said supporters should realise that they can still face prosecution for abusive behaviour, both inside and outside football stadia.

“It is important to stress that this does not give anyone who is heading to a football match this weekend, this week or this month, the opportunity to sing and chant what they want,” he said.

“If anyone chants anything of a sectarian or racist nature, they could still face prosecution under section 74 of the Criminal Justice Act or for creating a breach of the peace.”

Labour MSP James Kelly, who led the calls to repeal the act, said the legislation had been a failure.

He said: “It has not tackled bigotry, it has been widely criticised by lawyers and human rights groups, and football fans have been treated as second class citizens.”

However community safety minister Annabelle Ewing said that politicians should have backed moves to create alternative legislation.

She said: “This move sends out an appalling signal, suggests that the law is going to be soft on antisocial conduct by bigots and bullies and will compromise the ability of police and prosecutors to charge people for unacceptable behaviour.”

The repeal comes in a week where football bosses faced claims that they were sweeping complaints about sectarianism under the carpet. Current and former match delegates told the BBC they had registered complaints about abuse which had then been ignored.

Nil by Mouth said that this week’s developments showed the need for strict liability legislation – where clubs are held accountable for all unacceptable conduct within their own stadium – to be introduced.

“It really is time for the introduction of Strict Liability in Scotland,” said Scott. “We were very heartened to hear the Green Party speak in favour of this in the parliament, and James Dornan MSP is bringing forward a private member’s bill which would see the principles introduced into the game by law.

“Stories in the media this week have shown that the footballing authorities cannot be trusted to act responsibly when they are contacted about concerns over the actions of supporters.”

 

Comments

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Peter Dow
almost 4 years ago
Without the Football Act, there remains plenty of pretexts left for the Lord Advocate and his procurator fiscals to trump up false charges against innocents.There is no "gap in the law", but rather gaps in the bloodthirsty JAWS of the Lord Were-Wolffe and his wolf-pack of prosecutors, gaping jaws ready to bite hard on the dead-meat-walking of any unsuspecting Scots who may still be hoping that Scotland is a "free country" where legal human rights might mean anything to royalist, fascists who rule the Queen's courts in Scotland.There is no law and no justice in Scotland except the law of the jungle where the Lord Were-Wolffe is the apex predator.