Political Correspondent

THE LABOUR MSP bidding to scrap the controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football act has clashed with SNP backbenchers over his plans

James Kelly gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee and was challenged by several SNP members to state if he thought certain songs were offensive or acceptable to be sung at matches.

Mr Kelly a Glasgow Labour MSP said fans, clubs and police should work together to combat sectarianism and offensive behaviour at football according to the MSP who is bidding to scrap the controversial law.

He said that education and cooperation was needed not a law which “targets football supporters”.

George Adam, Paisley SNP MSP, asked abour specific songs which have been heard at some matches

He asked if the ‘famine song’ and ‘roll of honour’ were acceptable to be sung at matches or not.

Mr Kelly said his opinion was fans should sing “football songs” to support their team.

However, he said fans also had the right to freedom of political expression.

He said: “But they don’t have the right to be hateful either in football grounds or on the street.”

He was asked repeatedly by Mr Adam, Coatbridge and Chryston SNP MSP, Fulton McGregor and Mairi Gougeon, Angus North and Mearns SNP MSP, what he considered acceptable.

Mr Adam was also asked if he thought that a politician then Holyrood deputy Presiding Officer Trish Godman, high profile lawyer the late Paul McBride both with Celtic connections, and the then Celtic manager, Neil Lennon, being sent bullets in the post was reason for the Scottish Government to act and bring in legislation.

Mr Kelly said those matters were deal with by the police and prosecutors at the time.

He said the legislation that was subsequently passed was a “complete over reaction of the SNP government.”

The MSP said that trust needed to be rebuilt between fans and the police as well as scrapping the act.

He said: “Separate to that, there needs to be work done with supporters and the police and the clubs to rebuild a better relationship, in order that we get more effective policing. I don’t see the repeal of this Act as being the end of the matter.”