Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Wednesday, 22 June 2011 14:43 UK

Justice Committee

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland told the Justice Committee he wanted to see sectarianism legislation in place by the start of the next football season by 22 June 2011.

The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Bill aims to stamp out abusive behaviour from football fans whether they are watching matches in a stadium, in the pub or commenting online.

Mr Mullholland said that guidance will be given to chief constables and potential offences would be examined in their context: "It all depends on the facts, the circumstances and the context."

He added that singing the national anthem or making the sign of the cross would not be illegal under the new law if there was no aggravating behaviour.

Earlier Chloe Clemmons, Scottish Churches Parliamentary Officer, told the committee there had been a lack of consultation on a new anti-sectarian law.

Ms Clemmons told MSPs she was "very, very concerned" about the ownership of the legislation as the government had "not given civic Scotland a chance to engage" and described the bill as a "PR statement".

Tim Hopkins from the Equality Network agreed that he had not had time to consult on this bill as he had only seen the bill when it was published at the end of last week.

Stewart Regan from the Scottish Football Association also agreed that it would be better to have the legislation ready for the first match of the season.

David Martin from Rangers Football club told MSPs that he was "somewhat surprised" that the Scottish government was trying to rush through the laws.

Mr Martin said we need to enforce the new legislation as the old legislation had not been enforced.

Celtic Football Club's Ronnie Hawthorn said the timescale had been too short to allow consultation with fans.

Neil Doncaster from the Scottish Premier League and Robert Howat from Celtic Football Club also gave evidence.

On 21 June Communities Minister Roseanna Cunningham gave evidence to the Justice Committee which you can view here.

Justice Committee membership


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