Tayside and Central Scotland

Strathclyde Pc charged over pro-IRA chanting

Image caption The alleged incident happened in Mill Street, Perth

A police officer has been accused of chanting pro-IRA slogans during a night out with his uncle.

Christopher Halaka, an officer with Strathclyde Police, was arrested in Perth after being reported by an off-duty officer from a neighbouring force.

Mr Halaka appeared at Perth Sheriff Court to face a charge of committing a sectarian breach of the peace on 27 December.

The officer, who denies the charges, has not been suspended from duty.

If convicted, he could be sacked from his job at Strathclyde Police and even be given a prison sentence.

Mr Halaka, 31, is alleged to have been in Perth with his uncle Laurence Winters on a night out which lasted until the early hours the next day.

At about 0300 GMT, after a city centre nightclub closed, the pair are accused of being involved in a disturbance near the taxi rank in Mill Street.

Not guilty plea

The alleged sectarian abuse was reported to Tayside Police by off duty Pc Ian Cameron.

Witnesses claimed that Mr Halaka, from Falkirk, and 43-year-old Mr Winters, from Perth, were chanting pro-IRA statements. They were also said to be singing Irish folk songs, including the Fields of Athenry.

They were arrested and taken to the the divisional police HQ in Perth.

Mr Halaka pled not guilty to a charge of breaching the peace in a racially aggravated manner on 28 December 2009.

He also denied conducting himself in a disorderly manner, shouting and swearing, and chanting a slogan containing sectarian phrases in Perth's Mill Street.

Mr Winters, a pest controller, was not in court but denied the same charges.

Both men are scheduled to go on trial in connection with the incident next month.

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