A man who was fined after filming a pet dog giving Nazi salutes has rubbed shoulders with Nigel Farage after being invited to speak about his case at the European Parliament.
Mark Meechan met with the former UKIP leader and his successor Gerard Batten as he spoke at a conference on threats to free speech on the internet.
The 30-year-old was ordered to pay £800 after recording his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil” by raising its paw.
He was found guilty of breaching the Communications Act by posting material that was “grossly offensive” and “anti-Semitic and racist in nature”, in an offence aggravated by religious prejudice, following a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court in April.
Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, raised more than £193,000 through a crowdfunding page to pay for legal fees to fund an appeal against his conviction and sentence but his application was refused.
He joined UKIP in the wake of his conviction and on Monday he sat alongside leader Batten, Scots MEP David Coburn and fellow YouTuber Carl Benjamin at a panel in Strasbourg.
He was there to support the party’s opposition to new EU proposals which would make platforms like YouTube liable for copyright infringements.
Speaking about his case, he said: “In my video I gave context to what I was doing.
“I was getting a cute dog to react to a vulgar phrase in order to annoy my girlfriend.
“The phrase ‘Gas the Jews’ is a horrible phrase. It is and people will be offended by hearing it.
“But there was no direction instruction to actually harm anyone within my video.
“It was made about two years ago and I have yet to hear of any anti-Semitic attacks carried out because someone was inspired by a pug. You just need to analyse the context in which the phrase was said.”
Meechan’s lawyers took his case to the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh but a panel of sheriffs refused to grant leave to appeal in July.
The case did not make it to a full hearing as it was refused at the ‘sift’ stage where sheriffs review bids to appeal and determine whether they have any merit.
YouTube prankster Meechan, who claimed the video was a joke and that he was exercising his right to freedom of speech, has said his legal team will now refer the case to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, who review potential miscarriages of justice.
He has vowed to go to prison rather than pay his fine if the appeal process was unsuccessful.
The original clip was viewed more than three million times on YouTube and sparked a debate over free speech, with comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel defending Meechan.
Meechan has said that since his conviction he has been unable to find work and has been subjected to violent threats on the street.
He also said any money left over for his legal challenge will be donated to charity.