I only have two words for this guy. Hoist, and petard.
By Chris Slack
Last updated at 1:20 PM on 24th August 2011
A judge has ruled that a St Andrews University student who defiled an Israeli flag in a supposed political protest was acting in a racially aggravated manner.
Paul Donnachie, 19, put his hands down his trousers and touched the flag belonging to Jewish exchange student Chanan Reitblat in what he claimed was a ‘political statement’.
Donnachie’s co-accused Samuel Colchester, 20, was found not proven by Sheriff Charles Macnair following a two-day trial at Cupar Sheriff Court.
Donnachie, who will lose his place at St Andrews with immediate effect, said he was ‘devastated’ by the decision.
He said he would appeal the conviction and added: ‘I’m depressed. I have fought racism all my life.’
During his evidence, Donnachie had insisted that he had not meant to cause offence and said he found racism ‘abhorrent’.
And he strongly denied calling Mr Reitblat a terrorist.
But the sheriff, who was booed loudly by pro-Palestine supporters, upheld the complaints, telling Donnachie: ‘I consider this to have been an act of malice against Mr Reitblat for his membership of Israel.’
The judge had earlier refused defence solicitor Patrick Campbell to allow evidence from academic experts on whether the actions of Donnachie constituted an attack on the Israeli state as opposed to racism.
Due to be called was Jewish politics lecturer Sarah Glynn who was close to tears as she left court and told Reitblat’s family their actions were ‘scandalous.’
She said: ‘As Jews you should be ashamed. This is devastating.’
In earlier evidence, Mr Reitblat told how he felt he had no option bit to ‘get out of St Andrews’ following the alleged incident.
Under examination from fiscal depute Brian Robertson, he spoke of how he felt ‘violated’ by the actions of his peers.
He added that Facebook comments made by Donnachie in the wake of the disturbance prompted him to flee to Glasgow as they made reference to Palestinian organisations linked to terrorist atrocities.
He said: ‘I did not know who Paul’s friends were, or who they knew.’
Today’s verdict comes after an Edinburgh sheriff ruled criticism of Israel was not racist after members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign disrupted a performance of the Jerusalem String Quartet in the capital.
Sheriff James Scott threw out charges which suggested the conduct was racially aggravated, saying that a conviction would render human rights legislation worthless.
Mick Napier, one of the accused in that case and chair of the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, said yesterday’s decision was ‘scandalous.’