Man Sentenced For MSP Abuse

16 June 2015, 19:24

A man has been spared jail after racially abusing Scottish MSP Humza Yousaf, saying "You're not from my country".

Christopher Chisholm, 31, targeted the politician outside Queen Street station in Glasgow City centre while he was taking part in a charity event to highlight poverty.

Mr Yousaf was with a Big Issue vendor trying to sell the magazine to commuters at the time of Chisholm's racist outburst.

Chisholm - who has previous breach of the peace convictions with religious and sexual orientation aggravations - told those filming the event "Take a photo of that mate, that's a benefit locust".

The dad-of-one then declined to buy a Big Issue from the politician saying "You're not from my country".

Last month at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Chisholm, from Gartcosh, pleaded guilty to acting in a racially aggravated manner on February 7, last year.

Today Sheriff Andrew Mackie told him: "Your behaviour was deplorable on this occasion, there is no place for the type of conduct you displayed in Scottish society."

He handed Chisholm a community payback order with the condition he be supervised for 12 months and must carry out 90 hours of unpaid work within six months.

Procurator fiscal depute Adele MacDonald told the court celebrities, politicians and other well-known people were invited to take part in the charity week, selling the Big Issue to raise awareness.

She said: "The complainer in this case was a member of the Scottish Parliament Humza Yousaf who although born in this country is of Pakistani ethnicity.

"He was taking part in the Big Issue charity event and was wearing a red Big Issue vendor's jacket, there were other people there from the Big Issue attending the event along with a Big Issue seller."

The court heard there were also student journalists filming the event around 4pm at the entrance to Queen Street station at Dundas Street.

Miss MacDonald said at 4.45pm Mr Yousaf was attempting to sell the magazine to commuters when Chisholm walked across the front of the camera and commented.

She told the court he said: "Take a photo of this mate, that's a benefit locust" and indicated towards Mr Yousaf.

She added: "Mr Yousaf asked the accused 'Would you like to buy a Big Issue' and the accused replied 'No I don't mate, you're not from my country and you're selling the Big Issue'.

"Mr Yousaf then stated 'I think you will find I was born here pal'. The accused then stated 'Aye maybe you were but the rest of the people weren't'."

He was also captured on camera saying "f****** benefit locust" and "charity begins at home".

Those round about were shocked by the racist outburst.

The court heard the incident was reported to the police on February 13 and there was a media campaign to try and identify Chisholm after the footage was posted online.

He was eventually traced and invited to the police station but he declined and said he would speak to a lawyer.

When officers arrived at his door he was recognised from CCTV and arrested for a racist breach of the peace.

Miss MacDonald added: "Police officers thereafter took him to Govan police office were he was formally cautioned and charged and his answer to caution and charge was 'not guilty no comment'."

Defence lawyer Laura Kiernan said her client had been drinking on the train and when he arrived he saw the cameras and vendor and approached them.

She described his actions as a "brief outburst" adding "albeit I accept and Mr Chisholm accepts, unpleasant".

Miss Kiernan said Chisholm apologised to Mr Yousaf for his behaviour and anyone who may have seen it and "rectified" his behaviour by no longer drinking.

The sheriff highlighted the previous convictions with aggravations relating to football and religion, and sexual orientation.

Chisholm was hit with a £600 fine at the same court after he ran on to the pitch at Hampden as Rangers beat Celtic in the 2003 League Cup final.

The defence lawyer said: "That was at a football match when legislation was recently brought in, at that time perhaps while Glasgow was going through a cultural change."

She said he was fined for the conviction with the sexual orientation aggravation and that he was going through a "particularly traumatic time".

Mr Yousaf wrote on Facebook that he was "very pleased" Chisholm had been found guilty and "sentenced appropriately".

He said: "This verdict and sentence shows that Scotland will take a zero tolerance approach to racism and bigotry in whatever form it exists.

"Considering the nature of the offence I would suggest that Mr Chisolm spends some of his community payback volunteering with the homeless or even working with migrants to have a better understanding of the daily challenges they face."