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SNP MSP: Football fans with 'Yes' badges susceptible to police action

John Mason, MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, made the comments during a meeting with football fans at Holyrood.

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A SNP MSP has said he believes fans wearing "Yes" badges at football matches should be susceptible to police action.

John Mason, MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, made the comments during a meeting with football fans at Holyrood on Thursday.

Mr Mason joined other MSPs including Labour's Jackie Baillie and Michael McMahon at the meeting with supporters' group Fans Against Criminalisation (FAC), which opposes the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act.

The SNP politician was asked to respond to an incident at Tynecastle stadium before Sunday’s Hearts vs Celtic match.

It was put to Mr Mason that a fan wearing a t-shirt with "Free Palestine" across it was questioned by police.

He said: "I think that guy probably knew he shouldn’t be wearing that inside a football stadium.

"We should all know by now expressing political views is no longer acceptable at football matches."

Mr Mason was then asked whether, for example, a Scotland fan at a match found wearing a "Yes" badge in support of independence should also be susceptible to police action. The MSP replied: "Yes."

When asked to comment on the SNP banners at various football grounds around Scotland, Mr Mason said this was something he would "have to look into."

Jeanette Findlay, of FAC, said: "Mr Mason's remarks, revealing his view that the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act outlaws any form of political expression anywhere near a football ground, is very disturbing coming as it does come from a member of the governing party.

"This view has clearly been adopted by the police as evidenced by their behaviour on the Gallowgate in March last year."

A SNP spokesman said: "The Offensive Behaviour Act is designed to ensure that football fans are able to enjoy going to support their team without being subject to the offensive behaviour of a small minority.

"While we are committed to reviewing the legislation after two years, figures show that the strong action taken is delivering results.

"People are of course free to express legitimate political views – and the legislation is quite clear that it is aimed at tackling offensive and threatening behaviour."

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