Pressure is mounting on the Scottish Government over its plans for anti-sectarian speech laws after an unprecedented attack on Alex Salmond by the Catholic Church.
It comes as the First Minister prepares to meet with Bishop Philip Tartaglia at the First Minister’s official residence, Bute House, in Edinburgh.
As The Herald revealed yesterday, the bishop, who many expect to be Scotland’s next cardinal, warned of a serious chill between the Catholic community and SNP Government. He also accused Salmond of reneging on a promise to make public statistics on convictions for sectarian offences.
On other fronts, Labour’s justice spokesman, James Kelly, has wrotten to Tricia Marwick, Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, casting doubt on whether the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Kelly, speaking ahead of publication tomorrow of findings from the second stage of the Bill, claimed the demand was made in light of concerns from the Scottish Human Rights Commission and said the legislation was too broad and risked spawning rafts of costly court cases and compensation claims. He said:
There are serious questions as to whether the Bill complies with the European Convention on Human Rights. My fear is the legislation is drafted too broadly, which may lead to a situation where fans do not even realise their behaviour is breaking the law.
We must have complete confidence any legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament is absolutely watertight to avoid our laws potentially being subject to costly court cases and compensations claims down the line.
A Tory spokesman said:
All right-minded people want to eradicate the evils of sectarianism, but the best way of doing this is with clear, robust and vigorous legislation. We must guard against ‘something must be done syndrome’ producing bad law.