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