POLICE have been condemned for the “totally crazy” decision to order a hotel to remove a sign which referred to the England football team as“them”.
Officers warned staff at the Royal MacKintosh, Dunbar, East Lothian
that they could be in “serious trouble” unless they removed the “Scotland vs Them” sign outside the bar.
Police claimed the sign advertising today’s (wed) clash with the Auld Enemy could cause offense.
The hotel, which is showing the game in its bar, has been forced to change the wording to “Scotland vs England”.
Hotel boss Cliff McArthur said uniformed officers visited the bar on Friday morning, He said: “The police arrived and the police officer said to me
“That was the first thing he said to me. I said, ‘I’m sorry what do you mean?’ He said, ‘Who’s them?’
“Again I said, ‘I’m really sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about’.”
Mr McArthur said he was asked to accompany the officer to the bar.
He continued: “I walked round the corner and one of the young bar lads had put up on the blackboard, ‘Wednesday night football – Scotland versus Them.’”
The sign had only been “a bit of fun,” and regulars saw the row as “a bit of a hoot,” he said.
He added: “We’ve got English, Scottish and Welsh coming in here.”
Mr McArthur said: “The police were being very serious and said, ‘If one of my English colleagues had seen this you’d be in serious trouble.’”
Eben Wilson, of campaign group Taxpayer Scotland, said police should spend precious time and resources investigating crime.
He said: “It really is worrying when police officers start deciding what is right and wrong without a clear reference to common law.
“They seemed to have chosen to have a serious sense of humour loss.
“I think taxpayers would prefer they stuck to criminal investigations and kept away from social authoritarianism”.
Hamish Husband, spokesman for the Tartan Army, called for police to see the funny side.
He said: “Of course the police should have had a bit of a sense of humour about it.
“The proper historical term for the England team is the Auld Enemy – would they have taken offence at that?”
SNP councillor for Dunbar and East Linton Paul McLennan, who is travelling to Wembley for the game, said: “I just think that’s political correctness gone crazy – totally crazy.”
“I know for a fact that they have lots of English guys who stay there anyway as contractors.
“There’s always that bit of banter about football – it’s never any more than that.
“I’ve lived in Dunbar all my life and even when it comes to the Old Firm or Hibs/Hearts, football, rivalry has never gone overboard.
“I just think that’s daft. It’s a football rivalry and no more.”
Scotland and England have not clashed in international football since 1999.
At the time, a pub in central Edinburgh advertised the clash – without attracting police attention – as “Good versus Evil”.
Scottish police have been at the centre of numerous claims they have put political correctness ahead of common sense.
In 2010 Lothian and Borders Police officers were given guidance in an Appropriate Language Guide.
It advised against calling elderly people “old biddies” or saying gay people are “batting for the other side.”
Tory MSP Bill Aitken said at the time officers would know not to use offensive phrases, adding: “There are complaints about police budgets, but apparently Lothian and Borders Police seem to have the time and the money to waste on politically correct and esoteric matters.
“They should cut this nonsense out and have a few more officers patrolling the streets of Edinburgh.”
A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed yesterday that an officer visited the Dunbar hotel because the sign was “potentially offensive”.