Man convicted for Nazi pug video fails in legal challenge

A man who was fined after putting footage of a dog giving a Nazi salute on the internet has lost a bid to challenge his conviction at Britain’s senior court.

Mark Meechan speaks to the media outside Airdrie Sheriff Court. Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Mark Meechan, 31, was prosecuted after the video entitled “M8 Yer dug’s a Naazi” featuring his girlfriend’s pug raising its paw to the command “Sieg Heil” and the expression “Gas the Jews” appeared on YouTube.

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Meechan, of Coatbridge, in Lanarkshire, denied committing an offence under the Communications Act during a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court but was found guilty of breaching it by posting the grossly offensive film.

He claimed that the video was only intended as a joke to upset his girlfriend.

Sheriff Derek O’Carroll fined him pounds 800 and a subsequent attempt by Meechan to challenge his conviction at the Sheriff Appeal Court, where the judges are senior sheriffs, failed after it was rejected in the initial sifting process.

Meechan’s lawyers then raised a petition seeking to have the High Court use its powers to allow an appeal to be taken to the UK Supreme Court in London.

His senior counsel, Dorothy Bain QC, said if it was considered appropriate that there ought to be a hearing before the High Court judges on an appeal against refusal at the sift then she would seek an opportunity to amend the petition.

But Scotland’s senior judge, the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, sitting with the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, and Lord Menzies today rejected the move to have the case heard before the High Court or UKSC.

Lord Carloway said: “This court has no power to grant leave to appeal from a sift decision from the Sheriff Appeal Court to itself. To do so would be in defiance of the statutory scheme.”

He said that similarly it had no power to grant leave to appeal to the UKSC in such circumstances.

Lord Carloway said there was no gap in the statutory provisions as had been argued and that they were a deliberate appeal structure designed to deal with cases at an appropriate and proportionate level.

Lord Carloway said that the appeal judges would give full reasons in writing for their decision.

Meechan had sought to pursue a human rights appeal including a claim under article 10 which covers freedom of expression.

Miss Bain argued that the petition was competent and necessary to advance the challenge brought by Meechan.

She said: “The consequences of his conviction for this breach of the Communications Act have been immense for him both professionally and personally.”

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, invited the court to refuse to invoke its powers to grant the move.

He said the Sheriff Appeal Court had exercised its powers in accordance with statute and refused Meechan permission to appeal.

He said that following his conviction an appeal was marked and considered initially by a single appeal sheriff and then further scrutinised by three appeal sheriffs who refused leave to pursue the challenge at a full hearing in open court.