As head of the prosecution service, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC reaffirmed the commitment of Crown Office to tackle antisemitism when he met representatives of SCoJeC last week.
He opened the meeting by welcoming the decision of the Sheriff who had convicted a St Andrews University student of "racially aggravated" conduct, for not being distracted or intimidated by the political protests inside and outside the court. He was pleased that the Sheriff had accepted that attacking a Jewish student in his own room and damaging his property could never be, as the aggressor claimed, merely "legitimate protest", and said that antisemitism had to be tackled as vigorously as sectarianism and other hate crime. He also offered, on his own initiative, to meet Jewish students, and to address a public meeting in the Community, to discuss their concerns and reassure them of his commitment.
The Lord Advocate then went on to discuss the Scottish Government's proposals to tackle football-related hate crime and offensive communications. He said the Bill would continue its passage through the Parliamentary procedure when Parliament reconvenes, and it was hoped that it would be on the statute book in the first half of next year. He reiterated that although inter-Christian sectarianism is the biggest problem, the legislation would cover all religious hatred and other forms of bigotry. He emphasised that the Jewish Community would benefit from both the Bill and other legislation already on the Statute Book citing antisemitic abuse directed at Jewish (and other) footballers, and abusive communications received by communal organisations.
Finally, we were able to assure the Lord Advocate that arrangements to expedite death registration and burial were working well, but we reiterated concerns that the proposed new Medical Review system would cause delays. He undertook to give this further consideration, and advised us that a new system of "Casualty Surgeons" in Strathclyde had significantly reduced the number of post-mortems required, by enabling the cause of death to be certified earlier.
The Lord Advocate addressed a public meeting on 25 September 2011. Click here to read a report.