‘English Tories’ song not racist
A political songwriter has been cleared of singing racial remarks about “English Tories” at last year’s Scottish Conservative Party Conference in Stirling.
Alan Smart (54) had been accused of singing lyrics telling English Tories to “go home” while they were attending the conference, which was attended by Prime Minister David Cameron, at the Albert Halls on June 7.
At his trial at Stirling Sheriff Court on Monday, however, Mr Smart – also known as Citizen Smart – was acquitted on the charge after Sheriff Wyllie Robertson ruled that he had no case to answer.
Speaking outside court following his acquittal, flanked by supporters and his solicitor Aamer Anwar, Mr Smart, of Bridge Street, Dollar, said that he felt that his initial arrest over the matter was “heavy-handed”. He added: “If police had asked me to stop singing it I would have stopped.
“It was the Stirling police, their big day. They had their masterplan and we turned up, which they didn’t expect.”
Mr Anwar said that any conviction of Mr Smart would also have set “a dangerous precedent”.
During the trial itself, the court had heard that Mr Smart was part of a group who had set up outside the Albert Halls to protest over the Bedroom Tax as the conference went on.
In court, video footage of Mr Smart’s performance was played and he was heard singing the lyrics “go home English Tories, go on home”.
He was later arrested and charged with singing racial remarks intended to cause alarm and distress, a charge which he pleaded not guilty to.
During the trial, Crown witness Christabel Wandless (50), a senior operations officer with Stirling Council, said that she had been there that day in her work capacity.
Mrs Wandless, who said that she was English and had been living in Scotland for 13-and-a-half years, told the court: “The particular singing that I heard was singing suggesting that English Tories might like to leave.”
She added that the sentiment of the lyrics was quite clear and that they had made her feel “uncomfortable”.
Another witness, Mark McIlfatrick told the court: “If you had used anybody else, the Polish to go back to Poland, the Indians to go back to India, that is not acceptable.
“It’s a racist comment.”
But solicitor Mr Anwar said: “Mr Smart was referring to English Tories rather than English people.”
With the Crown case concluded, Mr Anwar then said that he wished to make a no case to answer submission to the court.
Having then heard from both the solicitor, who said that the Crown had failed to establish that anyone had been alarmed or distressed by the song, followed by fiscal depute Gail Russell’s view for the Crown,
Sheriff Robertson said that he was satisfied that “in law, there was no case to answer”. Acquitting Mr Smart, Sheriff Robertson said: “We have lost the art of drawing the line, it seems to me.”