Tag Archives: Sectarianism

CATHOLICS AND SECTARIAN CRIME: “HARDLY VICTIMS”? By JohnBhoy – Part 2

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.

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ANALYSIS: CLAIM 2 –

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

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

CATHOLICS AND SECTARIAN CRIME: “HARDLY VICTIMS”? By JohnBhoy – Part 1

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.

CLAIMS BY STEERPIKE

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

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Filed under Guest Posts, 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.

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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

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

Be Careful at the Football – the New Offensive Behaviour etc Act is in Force

 

This weekend sees the first outing for the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.

The Scottish Executive has been publicising the changes, and a press release on 29th February was issued to remind us all of the new Act.

Some extracts from the release are below in bold, with my comments in plain text.

The Act will come into force on March 1 to stamp out offensive and religious hatred at football. 

The long title to the Act is – “An Act of the Scottish Parliament to create offences concerning offensive behaviour in relation to certain football matches, and concerning the communication of certain threatening material.”

That differs from the stated focus of the Act as per the press release, as it is a wider range.

In addition, according to the release, the Act will stamp out offensive hatred and religious hatred at football. I am not sure if there is “inoffensive” hatred. And the Act extends far further than “religion”.

Indeed as I have said before, “religion” is not the problem, unless support, especially for Rangers and Celtic, is seen as “religious”.

It is good to see that the aim is high – stamping out hatred. Is “hatred” now illegal?

The legislation responded to calls from Scotland’s police and prosecutors and gives them additional tools to crack down on sectarian songs and abuse at and around football matches and threats posted on the internet or through the mail.  

Graeme Pearson, MSP, is a former police officer, latterly head of the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency. In the Committee stages of the Bill, he pointed out that the police would never decline greater powers. The same applies to prosecutors.

Is the position of the present Executive that the police and prosecutors will be given whatever powers they seek? Is the default position that, if the police and prosecutors ask for something, it is, by definition, necessary?

This is even more of a concern where the Crown Office, which is in charge of the Scottish prosecutorial system, is in the hands of career prosecutors. The present Lord Advocate, Frank Mulholland, and his predecessor, Dame Elish Angiolini, were both career prosecutors, working their way up through the ranks of procurators fiscal.

This trend (if two example can be considered a trend) is a change from the practice from before, stretching back hundreds of years. The Lord Advocate was appointed from the Scottish Bar, and whilst they would have had experience in Crown Office as a prosecutor, they would also have had a broader practice. They were independent of Crown Office, whilst heading it up.

As the great CLR James wrote in his book “Beyond a Boundary”, “What do they know of cricket, who only cricket know?”

What do they know of prosecution who only prosecution know?

The present and immediate past Lord Advocates are not unqualified for the role. However, the fact that they have had no experience elsewhere ought to have rendered them disqualified for the post.

The release also states that the new rules were needed as “additional tools” but surely the existing tools were sufficient?

This week has seen the imprisonment of David Craig for 14 months after admitting behaving in a threatening or abusive manner likely to cause fear and alarm by posting images and messages of an offensive, threatening and sectarian nature. He was dealt with under the “old” law.

Supt David Brand, head of the Football Coordination Unit Scotland, said: “On the day that the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012 has come into force, this sends a strong warning to others who might think about posting such vile, abusive and threatening comments on Facebook, Twitter or indeed any other online site.”

I know that Supt Brand is a dedicated and excellent police officer. However, his statement seems to miss the point. Mr Craig is in prison as a result of the “old” law. That was sufficient to allow him to be prosecuted and imprisoned. The new Act makes no difference to that.

There have been regular reports of people being arrested for “offensive chanting”.

Where are the “criminals” who could not be prosecuted because of the new law not being yet in force? Continue reading

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

Early on Day 13 of Rangers’ Administration – The Catch Up Service Continues – Suing, Policing and Singing

Just in time for whatever new stories come from the Sunday papers, I can catch up with a couple of loose ends from Friday.

(Sunday Morning Edit – on the basis that the Sunday papers appear to have nothing else in them other than Rangers, I will follow the new developments up later – but I have typed this stuff, so it’s going in!)

 

Mr Whyte and the BBC

First of all, I noted a tweet from Chris McLaughlin of the BBC which quoted Craig Whyte. Could Mr Whyte have been speaking to the BBC?

If so, and if he regains control of Rangers from the administrators, then he will have to fire himself, as per his pledge in October to the BBC!

And talking of the BBC, it has now been confirmed that a writ has been served on it at the instance of Mr Whyte. It seems that the court action is against both the BBC and Robert Burns, Head of Investigations at the Insolvency Service.

I confidently predicted that this court action would never see the light of day. As is often the case, I was wrong!

Formal confirmation as to whether the action has been raised in England or Scotland is awaited. As I have said many times, any action should be raised in England as the financial pressures on the defender to settle are so much higher, and the “no win, no fee” provisions so much more favourable for claimants.

Now that an action has been raised, all I can say is that I am even more astonished.

There are two essential elements in a damages claim, whether for injury to person, reputation or business. There must be a legal wrong committed against the claimant and there must be injury.

In a defamation or libel case, the injury relates to damage to reputation. Has the repute of the person been lowered amongst right thinking people?

When Lord Archer, for example, was at the height of his fame and political prominence, the media was afraid to write about him in a less than positive fashion. He was known to be litigious, and had won a huge award from the Daily Star for libel in 1987. Lord Archer was a prominent and powerful man whose reputation, despite being chipped away at round the edges by Michael Crick and by Private Eye, was still very high.

However, once he was convicted in 2003 of perjury and perverting the course of justice, and gaoled for four years, things changed. The media could effectively write anything it wanted about Lord Archer because his reputation could hardly be lower. If he sued and won in a libel case, the defence would ask the jury to consider how much the reputation of a convicted perjurer was worth. It remains possible for a jury in such a case to find that a person has been libelled, and to award one penny by way of damages.

In October 2011, when the BBC programme was published, Mr Whyte’s reputation was still high. His team had won the league, and despite a looming tax decision, which was nothing to do with him (as far as causing it was concerned) and a couple of trivial disputes with lawyers and ex-employees, he would have been seen as a fine and upstanding member of Scottish society.

We move forward a mere four months and matters are so different.

Mr Whyte has been condemned by a Sheriff for giving evidence described as “wholly unreliable”. His company has been forced into administration. It appears that, since taking over less than one year ago, a further £15 million in outstanding tax liabilities has been accrued. He has been seen either to have been incorrect in statements he has made, or else has said things which turn out to be the opposite of the truth.  He has been revealed as being listed under different names in the Companies House Register, and with differing dates of birth.

It is not easy to think of someone whose reputation in Scotland is now so poor.

Ands yet it is at this time that he raises court proceedings?

One wonders if, like the late Robert Maxwell, Mr Whyte viewed the court action as a way of gagging the media. If he did, he has found out that he required a much bigger gag, and many more of them!

Will this claim ever get to court for a full hearing? I don’t think so. He must be funding it privately (there is no way he can go with a no win, no fee deal here) and these cases are very expensive.

It would not surprise me if, in a few months, there is quiet word that the action has been dropped.

As I have said before, I did not see Mr Whyte winning. Now even if he wins, he will lose! Continue reading

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Filed under Administration, BBC, Civil Law, Craig Whyte's Companies, Defamation, Football, Rangers, SPL