A MAN who was fined after filming a pet dog giving Nazi salutes has failed in an attempt to appeal his conviction.
Mark Meechan, 30, was ordered to pay £800 after recording his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil” by raising its paw.
He was found guilty of breaching the Communications Act by posting material that was “grossly offensive” and “anti-Semitic and racist in nature”, in an offence aggravated by religious prejudice, following a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court in April.
Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, raised more than £193,000 through a crowdfunding page to pay for legal fees to fund an appeal against his conviction and sentence but has now revealed that it has failed at the first hurdle.
His lawyers took the case to the Sheriff Appeal Court in Edinburgh but a panel of sheriffs refused to grant leave to appeal.
The case did not make it to a full hearing as it was refused at the ‘sift’ stage where sheriffs review bids to appeal and determine whether they have any merit.
YouTube prankster Meechan, who claimed the video was a joke and
that he was exercising his right to freedom of speech, has said his legal team will now refer the case to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, who review potential miscarriages of justice.
Earlier this week, he vowed to go to prison rather than pay his fine if the appeal process was unsuccessful.
In a video posted online about the appeal decision, he said: “My appeal has been completely rejected.
“Scottish appeal courts work on a sift process where you get two chances to submit your appeal and it can be rejected at that stage on the grounds that there is absolutely no hope in hell of your appeal being successful.
“Mine was rejected on both stages. Apparently what happened to me is completely inarguable.
“I believe I have suffered a miscarriage of justice and my lawyers are going to submit that to the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.
“Hopefully the commission will agree and ask the appeal court to accept my appeal case.
“I never even got a hearing, I just got two rejection letters.”
He added: “I’m obviously not happy about the fact that I’m going to jail but I’m more than prepared to do it for what I believe in.
“I absolutely refuse to sacrifice my principles just so I can get an easy time under a law I shouldn’t even be getting charged under in the first place.”
The Sheriff Appeal Court confirmed Meechan’s bid to appeal had been refused last month.
The original clip was viewed more than three million times on YouTube and sparked a debate over free speech, with comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel defending Meechan.
During an interview on BBC Radio Scotland on Tuesday, Meechan claimed people should be allowed to say whatever they want, no matter how offensive, and it should not be a criminal offence.
He claimed Sheriff Derek O’Carroll, who presided over his trial, was from an older generation and didn’t understand his sense of humour.
He said: “The judge was a lot older, he’s from a different generation. There are jokes you would tell your friends but you would never repeat them to your grandmother.
“He was judging it from the era of comedy that he grew up with.
“One of my main gripes with the case is I was being judged by a man who doesn’t understand my world. I think that’s what has given me the biggest bee in my bonnet with regards to the judge’s decision.”
Meechan also said that since his conviction he has been unable to find work and has been subjected to violent threats on the street.
He has said any money left over for his legal challenge will be donated to charity.