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Mark Meechan's clip was viewed more than three million times on YouTube

Mark Meechan’s clip was viewed more than three million times on YouTube


A man who was fined for posting an online video of a dog carrying out Nazi salutes has failed in a bid to challenge his conviction.

Mark Meechan recorded his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as “Sieg Heil” by raising its paw.

He was fined £800 at Airdrie Sheriff Court and had hoped to challenge the case at the highest court in the land.

But this has now been blocked by Scotland’s most senior judges.

Meechan, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, has raised more than £75,000 through an online appeal to help pay for the challenge.

The 31-year-old denied committing an offence under the Communications Act during a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court last year but was found guilty of breaching it by posting the grossly offensive film.

He claimed that the video was only intended as a joke to upset his girlfriend.

Sheriff Derek O’Carroll fined him £800 and a subsequent attempt by Meechan to challenge his conviction at the Sheriff Appeal Court, where the judges are senior sheriffs, failed after it was rejected in the initial sifting process.

Meechan’s lawyers then raised a petition seeking to have the High Court use its powers to allow an appeal to be taken to the UK Supreme Court in London.

But Scotland’s senior judge, the Lord Justice General, Lord Carloway, sitting with the Lord Justice Clerk, Lady Dorrian, and Lord Menzies rejected the move, saying they had no powers to allow any further appeal in the circumstances of the case.

‘Consequences have been immense’

Meechan had sought to pursue a human rights appeal including a claim under article 10 which covers freedom of expression.

His senior counsel, Dorothy Bain QC argued that the petition was competent and necessary to advance the challenge brought by Meechan.

She said: “The consequences of his conviction for this breach of the Communications Act have been immense for him both professionally and personally.”

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, counter argued that the Sheriff Appeal Court had exercised its powers in accordance with statute and called on the judges to refuse Meechan permission to appeal.

Meechan, who posts videos under the name Count Dankula, has a target of raising £100,000 to cover the cost of his appeal.

BBC News

Scots 'Nazi dog' film maker Mark Meechan's appeal refused

Scots ‘Nazi dog’ film maker Mark Meechan’s appeal refused


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.

The Herald

Mark Meechan went viral on YouTube after recording pet pooch Buddha responding to statements such as ‘gas the Jews’ by raising its paw.

A man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes before putting the footage on YouTube has been convicted of committing a hate crime.

Mark Meechan, 30, recorded his girlfriend’s pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as ‘gas the Jews’ and ‘Sieg Heil’ by raising its paw during the footage called “M8 Yur Dug’s a Nazi”.

But after complaints about the content, police were called in and he was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime by uploading the footage on to the popular video sharing website in April 2016.

The original clip had been viewed more than three million times on YouTube.

 Mark Meechan denied committing a hate crime by releasing a video featuring his girlfriend's dog Buddha giving Nazi salutes (Image: Facebook)

Mark Meechan denied committing a hate crime by releasing a video featuring his girlfriend’s dog Buddha giving Nazi salutes (Image: Facebook)

Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, went on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court where he denied any wrong doing. He insisted he made the video to annoy his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly, 29.

However, Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the Communications Act that he posted a video on social media and YouTube which was grossly offensive because it was ‘anti-semitic and racist in nature’ and was aggravated by religious prejudice.

Sheriff O’Carroll told the court he did not believe Meechan had made the video only to annoy his girlfriend and ruled it was anti-Semitic.

He also said he believed Meechan left video on YouTube to drive traffic to other material he had on there.

He added: “In my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive

“The description of the video as humourous is no magic wand.

The 'M8 Yer Dugs a Nazi' video went viral but the court heard it caused huge offense to many Jewish people

The ‘M8 Yer Dugs a Nazi’ video went viral but the court heard it caused huge offense to many Jewish people

“This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration. But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility.

“The accused is quite obviously an intelligent and articulate man.

“The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive. Despite that the accused made a video containing anti-Semitic content and he would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people.”

Ross Brown, defending, said Meechan had only intended the video to be seen by a small group of friends and to annoy his girlfriend.

He said the material had been leaked and gone ‘viral’ but Police Scotland then wrongly pursued Meechan despite his later videos attempting to ‘set the record straight’.

He said: “The purpose was to annoy his girlfriend but there was no evidence that he intended to cause fear or alarm.

“His girlfriend testified that Mr Meechan had never made known to her any any anti-Semitic views whatsoever.

“The accused possesses both tolerant and liberal views.

“His girlfriend is in no doubt it was an example of his sense of humour.”

Mr Brown told the court it was wrong to focus on the phrase ‘gas the jews’ when it had been taken out of context of the whole video.

He said famous Jewish comedian David Baddiel had even voiced his support for Meechan and asked for him to walk free.

He added: “I can see that the video may not be to everyone’s taste. Others may be able to see the comedic or satirical element to it.

“The court should seek to acquit Mr Meechan for no other reason but to show it is 2018 and not 1984.”

Prosecutors had earlier asked for Meechan to be convicted and branded the video ‘an odious criminal act that was dressed up to look like a joke.’

The depute fiscal added: “He is a highly intelligent and articulate individual, we are not dealing with some callow youth who is inexperienced with what is going on in the world.

“The Crown contention is that the inclusion of the dog is an attempt to muddy the waters around him making, producing and posting the video.

“He says that he knows the context of the video but in a criminal court in Scotland he does not decide the context of anything, the court decides the context.”

Meechan had earlier told the court he only ever intended the video to be seen by a small group of friends on his YouTube account and insisted he still found it funny.

In the video the dog is seen perking up when it hears the statements and appears to lift its paw to the ‘Sieg Heil’ command in the video and is also filmed watching a rally led by Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.

Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson attended court today in support of Meechan.

Robinson, real name Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennon, said the case was a “huge free speech issue.”

Sheriff O’Carroll deferred sentence on Meechan until April 23 for background reports and a restriction of liberty assessment.

Speaking outside court Meechan, a first offender, said: “We are going to appeal.

“There has been a miscarriage of justice.

 Mark Meechan (right) and Tommy Robinson at Airdrie Sheriff Court (Image: SWNS.com)

Mark Meechan (right) and Tommy Robinson at Airdrie Sheriff Court (Image: SWNS.com)

“I think it is a very dark day in regards to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

“The thing that was most worrying is that one of the primary things that has to be considered is things like context and intent and that was completely disregarded.

“For any comedians in Britain, be very, very worried about making jokes in future because the context and intent behind them apparently don’t matter any more.”

Tommy Robinson said: “This is the intelligence services, this is the government, this is the police cracking down and silencing free speech on people who are not even allowed to tell jokes.

“As we’re in Scotland, Frankie Boyle has always said far worse.”

Comedian Ricky Gervais took to Twitter to comment on the case after the verdict.

He said: “A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed ‘grossly offensive’.

“If you don’t believe in a person’s right to say things that you might find ‘grossly offensive’, then you don’t believe in Freedom of Speech.

“I f***ing hate religion. I’ve criticised and ridiculed it for 40 years. Yet if my government tried to ban it or criminalise it, I would march alongside those poor fools and fight hard for their right to believe any f***ing stupid nonsense they chose.”
Daily Record