‘I be­lieve he didn’t mean any harm or of­fence by the video’

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News -

Ad­ver­tiser re­porter An­drew Bargh has fol­lowed Meechan’s story un­fold with in­ter­est – even be­ing called to give ev­i­dence at his trial.

He had cor­re­sponded with the Coat­bridge man in April 2016, when the furore over his controversial video sur­faced.

Re­call­ing the events lead­ing up to Meechan’s trial and sub­se­quent con­vic­tion, An­drew said:“This was ac­tu­ally my first ever re­port­ing job at the Ad­ver­tiser.

“Lit­tle did I know that I’d still be writ­ing about it two years later – or that I’d be called as a wit­ness in the trial.”

An­drew ad­mits to be­ing taken aback when he re­ceived a court ci­ta­tion last year; fi­nally be­ing called to give ev­i­dence at the third at­tempt.

He con­tin­ued:“It was an in­tim­i­dat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and it felt un­usual be­ing on the other side of court­room pro­ceed­ings and not hav­ing to take notes as I usu­ally do.

“There were var­i­ous de­lays and I was in and out the dock on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

“Ob­vi­ously I had to an­swer any ques­tions hon­estly and to the best of my abil­ity and I said I be­lieved he didn’t mean any harm or of­fence by the video.

“How­ever, I also said that, in my in­ter­view with him which was con­ducted over Face­book mes­sen­ger, there was lit­tle re­morse shown by him over the re­ac­tion the video had re­ceived.”

Ev­ery de­tail of An­drew’s cor­re­spon­dence with Meechan was ex­plored. He was asked how he had iden­ti­fied him on Face­book, how he com­menced their con­ver­sa­tion and how he gath­ered the in­for­ma­tion he needed.

He went on:“It was chal­leng­ing to re­call specifics from a con­ver­sa­tion that had taken place 18 months pre­vi­ously, and men­tally drain­ing when pres­sured to do so.

“I’ll ad­mit I felt I was let­ting Meechan down when, at times, the only re­sponse I could of­fer to ques­tions was‘I don’t know’.

“I was on the stand for around two hours, and I left the court feel­ing the same way I had en­tered it – won­der­ing why my ap­pear­ance was nec­es­sary.

“While I was giv­ing my ev­i­dence, I could see Meechan in my pe­riph­eral vi­sion sit­ting with his hands clasped. I re­mem­ber think­ing,‘he must be won­der­ing how on earth it has come to this’.

“I can’t be­gin to imag­ine what he’s think­ing now that he has a crim­i­nal record for‘caus­ing of­fence’.”

An­drew added:“Of course, peo­ple are per­fectly en­ti­tled to feel of­fended by Meechan’s video, but should caus­ing of­fence re­sult in a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion?

“If so, there are plenty of high­pro­file co­me­di­ans who have made lu­cra­tive ca­reers out of be­ing of­fen­sive.

“Should they be pros­e­cuted for hate crimes? In my opin­ion, the an­swer has to be no.”

Hate crime crimeMarkMeechan, Mark Meechan, pic­tured pic­tured­with with Bud­dha, has re­ceived wide­spread sup­port, in­clud­ing from co­me­dian and The Of­fice star, Ricky Ger­vais, inset

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