Auslan Cramb — Scottish correspondent The Daily Telegraph March 20, 2018
A man who filmed his girlfriend’s dog performing “Nazi salutes” and posted the footage on YouTube has been convicted of a hate crime.
Mark Meechan, 30, recorded the pug, Buddha, responding to statements including “gas the Jews” and “Sieg Heil” by raising its paw.
He was arrested following complaints about the video, which was viewed more than three million times after it was uploaded two years ago.
Meechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, denied any wrongdoing and claimed he made the video to annoy his 29-year-old girlfriend Suzanne Kelly.
However, Sheriff Derek O’Carroll found him guilty at Airdrie Sheriff Court of a charge under the Communications Act of posting a video that was “anti-Semitic and racist in nature”.
He said he believed Meechan left the video online to drive traffic to other material he had posted, adding: “In my view, it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive. The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand.
“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, claimed his client’s purpose was to annoy his girlfriend, who testified that it was an example of his sense of humour.
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.”
In the video, the dog is seen appearing to lift its paw to the “Sieg Heil” command. It is also filmed watching a rally led by Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games.
Outside court Meechan said he planned to appeal, adding: “I think it is a very dark day in regards to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
“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 anymore.”
He will be sentenced next month.