Category Archives: Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill


This post follows on from yesterday’s by JohnBhoy where he sought to debunk and refute Steerpike’s comments previously. You can read part 1 here.



Catholics are “hardly victims”

Steerpike also claimed that Catholics are “hardly victims” of religious prejudice. His “stats” compared one religion against another in an ugly equation of blame. Etween Catholics and Protestants. Unfortunately to dispel his “stats” it is also necessary to compare and contrast the relative attacks of religious prejudice using the same two protagonists in his comparative relationship. However, there will be no blame attached to either Catholics or Protestants. Where there is religious prejudice against Catholics and Protestants then they are both victims.

Catholics formed 16% of the population in Scotland so one would expect that 16% of the sectarian crime would fall on (the same number of) Catholics. Using the 2011-2012 Scottish government figures on this type of crime we can see that there were 876 sectarian crimes. In line with statistical expectations, one would anticipate that Catholicism would suffer 16% of those crimes: 16% of 876 = 140. Yet Catholicism was targeted on 509 occasions, rather than the expected 140, 3.63 times more than expected. That represents 58% of the sectarian crime in 2011-2012. Continue reading



Filed under Guest Posts, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill


Steerpike, a fellow poster on Random Thoughts Re Scots Law, made a number of claims about Catholics and sectarianism. No one is accusing Steerpike of deliberately misinterpreting the data on sectarianism but what you are about to witness is the public demolition of Steerpike’s position, as it is dismantled piece by piece, until it lies in an incoherent heap and is confined to where it belongs: in the bin.


Steerpike makes two claims:

  1. That “the stats don’t lie, 16% of the population carry out 40% of sectarian crime”; and
  2. Catholics are “hardly victims”.

I will show both these statements to be false (he also makes a subsidiary claim that “it is Catholics who are more likely to victimize a Protestant than the other way round”, but this is dependent on his first claim being true). Continue reading


Filed under Guest Posts, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill

How Unreasonable is the Offensive Behaviour etc Act – Guest Post by searriagh

In a continuation of the Scottish government’s determination to bludgeon football fans with their Offensive Behaviour at Football Grounds and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, Mr Joseph Anthony Cairns, recently acquitted of the heinous crime of singing two Irish Republican songs at a football match is to be dragged once again through the courts.

After an appeal by the Prosecutor Fiscal’s office, three law Lords, Brodie, Phillips and Lady Paton have decide to overturn the original Sheriff’s decision in the trial. Mr Cairns was charged with breaching Section 1(2)(e) of the Act. That is to say he allegedly indulged in behaviour that a reasonable person would be likely to consider offensive.

The original Sheriff had decided that Mr Cairns had no case to answer as the evidence showed that there had been no obvious reaction from the opposition supporters to the songs sung, possibly due to the fact that they could not sufficiently hear the lyrics being chanted and therefore could not possibly be offended. Continue reading


Filed under Football, Guest Posts, Human Rights, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill

High Court Confirms Draconian Nature of Offensive Behaviour Act re “Boys of the Old Brigade”

Today the High Court of Justiciary allowed an appeal by the Procurator Fiscal in Dingwall against the decision of a Sheriff to hold that there was no case to answer in relation to a charge under Section 1 of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012. The decision by the court, which was made up of Lady Paton, Lord Brodie and Lord Philip in the case against Joseph Cairns, which can be read in full here, makes clear the full extent of the Offensive Behaviour Act, and confirms that, effectively, if the police give evidence that a particular song or chant is likely to be considered offensive by a reasonable person, then an offence is committed, whether or not there is anyone there who was, or indeed could have been, offended.

Whilst this decision is a correct interpretation of the legislation, and therefore the Court cannot be faulted for its reasoning, I think it shows the draconian extent of the legislation, and the scope for abuse of it which there could be, in the hands of unscrupulous prosecutors or police. It also shows the inconsistencies in the legislation and in deciding in what circumstances an offence can, and cannot, be committed.

In addition, it clearly, as far as I can see, runs into conflict with the rights to free expression which are enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. Continue reading


Filed under Criminal Law, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill

Dundee Sheriff Blames Denominational Schools For the “Blight of Sectarianism” in Scotland

Some thoughts on a remarkable statement from the bench by a Sheriff, seemingly blaming denominational schools for sectarianism.

What can be done where a Sheriff is alleged to have fallen short of the standards of independence and impartiality or where “political” comments have been made?

Have any Sheriffs ever been removed for their political views or statements?

All these questions and more will be answered  below.


Sheriff Richard Davidson has been a resident sheriff at Dundee for about twenty years. During that time he has been an excellent sheriff who, following the maxim coined by Sheriff Irvine Smith, has got to know his Sheriffdom and has allowed his Sheriffdom to get to know him.

As befits a sheriff whose background was as litigation partner in one of Glasgow’s most prestigious firms, he has been able to deploy an excellent legal mind in dealing with the myriad of different cases, civil and criminal, which make up the workload of a sheriff in Scotland in the 21st century. Continue reading


Filed under Catholic Education, Criminal Law, Judiciary and Courts (Scotland) Act 2008, Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill