Football law campaign group demands Holyrood retraction

Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC) has demanded that a Scottish government minister withdraw inaccurate remarks he made about the campaign organisation’s position during a Holyrood debate.

Community safety minister Paul Wheelhouse told the Scottish Parliament’s debating chamber that FAC had welcomed moves to address criticism of the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act by opting for alternatives to prosecution for more offenders.

He implied support among the organisation for the Anti-Sectarianism Service provided by charity Sacro, which received £67,000 in funding from the Scottish government last month to deliver a “suitable and proportionate” alternative to prosecution for those charged under the act.

However, a spokeswoman for FAC told The Herald it maintained its outright opposition to the law and that it believed the only way to avoid criminalising football fans was to “repeal this heinous legislation”.

She continued: “Mr Wheelhouse made a statement to Parliament in which he implied that we supported the Sacro scheme.

“Shortly before he made this statement in the Chamber we made it clear to his adviser that we did not yet, he still reported it to MSPs.

“He was then invited to retract this by Labour MSP Michael McMahon but refused to do so and repeated the assertion in even stronger terms.

“Subsequently Mr Wheelhouse admitted in writing that he did not discuss this project with us which surely gives the lie to his claims.

“Notwithstanding all of this, now that we have corrected him his only course of action is to publicly withdraw the statement and have the Parliamentary record amended.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said Mr Wheelhouse had been “given a clear impression” that FAC would support the move, as a meeting with FAC on 4 June included some discussion of what he described as “the concept of diversionary work”.

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