Prosecutors drop racism charge against Scots editor in refugees row

By Hamish Mackay

A Scottish weekly newspaper editor facing prosecution under Britain’s anti-racism laws has had the charges dropped by the Crown.

Alan Buchan, publisher and editor of the Aberdeenshire-based North
East Weekly free newspaper, said the decision was a victory for common
sense, the freedom of the press and the right to free speech.

Peterhead-based
Buchan, 46, was arrested in August in connection with the publication
of an editorial in a June issue of the newspaper, headlined ‘Perverts
and Refugees’.

The article highlighted growing local concerns
that the redundant military base at RAF Buchan could become the site of
Scotland’s first refugee camp.

Buchan also claimed that people in
rural England were rebelling against the establishment of large refugee
centresholding up to 5,000 immigrants “because they were fully aware
that their communities would be swamped and turned into cesspools and
ghettos where murder, rape, robbery, assault, break-ins and numerous
other crimes became prevalent”.

Buchan was charged under Section
19 of the Public Order Act 1986, which gives the police powers to
arrest any person whom they suspect of publishing or distributing
written material that is threatening, abusive or insulting, and
intended to stir up racial hatred.

However the Crown Office has
now ruled: “After careful consideration of the evidence, the decision
has been taken not to proceed in this case.”

Buchan, whose publication has a circulation of around 10,000, told Press Gazette: “I am obviously relieved. The outcome could have been a prison sentence.

“It was a daunting situation and I could have lost my business and everything else.

“But the dropping of the case, even before it went to trial, can only be seen as a victory for common sense and free speech.

“If
I had been prosecuted, it would have stopped not just me, but the whole
of the press and media from raising justifiable concerns about issues
such as this.”

Buchan said he bitterly resented being branded a racist.

“The
people who know me up here know I am not a racist. I have very good
relations with all the local community – the Chinese and Asians – and
anybody who sat down and spoke with me would know I don’t have a racist
bone in my whole body.”

He said he had been inundated with messages of support from across the world following media coverage of his arrest.

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