Expert appointed to define sectarianism in Scots law

25 March 2018, 06:57 | Updated: 25 March 2018, 07:42

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A leading academic will head up work to define sectarianism within Scots law, the community safety minister has announced

Professor Duncan Morrow will chair the independent working group looking at the scope for a legal definition, Annabelle Ewing said.

The move, recommended by Holyrood's Justice Committee, will potentially make it easier for police and prosecutors to tackle sectarian behaviour.

Prof Morrow was previously the chair of the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland.

Ms Ewing also announced more than £500,000 of funding for anti-sectarianism work, including teacher and youth work training, engagement with online communities and a school pupil exchange programme to Northern Ireland's Corrymeela community.

The announcements come just over a week after MSPs voted to scrap Scottish Government legislation which aimed to tackle sectarianism within football.

Ms Ewing said: "Sectarianism must be tackled with the same conviction as every other hate crime.

"Since 2012 we have delivered an unprecedented range of activities to tackle the issue across Scotland, which have made a significant impact - and this latest funding builds on these achievements.

"We have shown sustained leadership and commitment to this agenda and look forward to working with others who can positively influence the communities they serve so that we can eradicate sectarianism once and for all.

"I thank Professor Morrow for taking forward the important work to consider the legal definition of sectarianism and I look forward to the working group's recommendations."

Prof Morrow said: "The continuing government support for community-based projects is evidence of genuine commitment to tackle sectarian issues where they matter - in real lives.

"I look forward now to taking this opportunity to explore the options for improving the legal basis for protecting against sectarianism."