‘I’m no racist’, pleads student

Paul Donnachie - Blackpool student convicted of racism
Paul Donnachie - Blackpool student convicted of racism
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A BLACKPOOL teenager found guilty of racism towards a fellow university student has vowed to appeal.

Paul Donnachie, 18, was expelled from prestigious St Andrews University following the incident.

A jury at Cupar Sheriff Court in Fife, Scotland, heard how Donnachie, stuffed his hands down his trousers then rubbed them over the Star of David banner after drunkenly accusing Chanan Reitblat of terrorism.

Mr Reitblat – a chemistry exchange student at St Andrews – said he had the four feet by three feet flag on the wall after being given it by his brother, an Israeli Forces soldier.

Drunk

Mr Reitblet said Donnachie, who he knew ‘vaguely’ was ‘extremely drunk and falling over a lot’ and entered his flat in university halls at around 1.30am on Saturday March 12 to see his room-mate.

He said Donnachie noticed the flag and said Israel was a terrorist state and the flag was a terrorist symbol.

Sheriff Charlie Macnair found Donnachie – a history student and member of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign – guilty of a racist breach of the peace.

He said he was satisfied he had behaved the way he had towards the Jewish student because Mr Reitblat was a citizen of the State of Israel.

He said: “I’m satisfied you said Israel was a terrorist state and the flag was a terrorist symbol and I also hold that you said that Mr Reitblat was a terrorist.”

Deferring sentencing on Donnachie for background reports, the sheriff said his actions towards the Israeli flag were ‘wholly uncalled for’.

Today Donnachie of Holbeck Avenue, Marton, told The Gazette: “From my point of view it was a political expression in an environment which is very political – in the hall of residence of the university. The complainant was a good friend of mine and I didn’t intend to offend him.

“It was a light-hearted demonstration of my political opinion and I didn’t expect him to take offence.

“I fight against racism in Blackpool – combating racist attitudes in my day to day life – and I have been involved in the Manchester Anti-Fascist Alliance.

“I intend to appeal. I believe my rights of freedom of expression have been infringed. It’s terrible. I have lost my university place and have to re-build my life.”

Members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who packed the public benches in the courtroom, booed, tutted and shouted ‘scandalous’ as Sheriff Macnair rose to leave.

Supporters of Donnachie have now set up a support page, ‘Defend the right to criticise Israel – Paul Donnachie is an anti-racist’, on social networking site Facebook.

A case against a second student, Samuel Colchester, 20, was found not proven after the sheriff said he was not satisfied he was involved in any criminality.