A Celtic fan who sang a pro-IRA song has been cleared in a landmark ruling that could have an effect on future cases where charges have been brought under the Offensive Behaviour at Football bill.
Sherrif Margaret Neilson cleared Celtic fan Calum Graham of singing a chant that was “likely to incite public disorder” after being accused of singing a pro-terrorist song at a football match.
In her judgement, Sherrif Neilson said that it was not enough for a song to be offensive to warrant a conviction.
She said: “Parliament clearly has it in mind that you must pass this hurdle [of inciting public disorder] for it to be an offence,” she explained, admitting she had “certain sympathy” with the police trying to deal with the legislation.
Police identified Graham as he sung The Roll Of Honour at a match between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Celtic on August 25 last year. The song is a pro-IRA song commemorating hunger strikers in Northern Ireland prisons.
The fan, from Glasgow, admitted he was one of a group singing it but denied behaving in an offensive manner likely to incite public disorder.
The court heard Graham was among dozens of fans caught chanting on camera by officers drafted in from Glasgow.
The judgement has lead to calls for a review of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.
Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald said the law was “fundamentally flawed”, before adding: “Neither the police nor the courts cam be expected to have clarity about what constitutes an offence when the Government wasn’t able to provide evidence of this to Parliament.
“It is essential this legislation is urgently reviewed before the start of the new football season.”