Outrage as Football Act fans charged under other laws

The Sunday Herald today revealed that football fans arrested under the widely discredited Offensive Behaviour at Football Act will now be tried under different laws, a move which has spawned outrage from campaigners and opponents of the bill.

The Crown Office has converted over half of the cases so that they are tried under other laws, despite the repeal of the law by Holyrood earlier this year. 

Fans against Criminalisation, the campaigning group that helped steer the bill’s repeal, did not mince their words on the blanket conversion of convictions, describing it as “[clear] flouting of the will of Parliament by prosecutors at the behest of their political masters. Vindictive persecution of young fans just because the [Scottish Government] got beat over the OBFA.”

Other critics of the bill pointed out how hollow the claims by the Scottish Government were that only the OBFA could lead to prosecution of sectarianism. Scottish Labour MSP James Kelly, who led the parliamentary campaign against the authoritarian legislation, said that:

“Policing attitudes were definitely changed when the Football Act was brought in, subjecting a great number of fans to the justice system completely unnecessarily. Now those caught up in the system under a law recognised as being completely dysfunctional will be prosecuted using different legislation.

“It is clear that football fans were being targeted for an entirely different approach by police and prosecutors. This even extended to creation of specially appointed football prosecutors.

"The legislation was completely overbearing and fundamentally unjust. A blanket transferring cases captured under this broken law does not seem like a fair way of going forward.

"The best thing to do would be to allow a full review of these cases, including questioning if the often farcical circumstances around these cases would have been picked up before the Football Act."

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