SCOTLAND'S ­anti-bigotry laws have been dealt a further blow after a Celtic fan retried after a ruling by appeal judges was cleared for a second time.

Joseph Cairns, 20, was acquitted after a sheriff questioned the evidence of police officers who claimed he had been singing songs in support of the IRA at a match between Ross County and Celtic.

Mr Cairns, from Glasgow, was previously cleared of the same charges by Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist after a no case to answer submission was made.

However, in the first move of its kind under the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, prosecutors appealed against the decision.

Judges at the Justiciary Appeal Court in Edinburgh recalled the acquittal and sent the case back to the sheriff to proceed with it.

Yesterday, at Dingwall Sheriff Court, Sheriff Gilchrist ruled the case against Mr Cairns was not proven, saying he was not convinced beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence of two members of the Football Co-ordination Unit Scotland (FoCUS), Constables Barry Inglis and Colin Stevenson.

The decision comes just days before a delegation of Labour MSPs is due to meet Police ­Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House over the operation of FoCUS.

Last night Mr Cairns's father, also called Joseph, said his family had suffered in the 11 months since his son was accused of singing lyrics from The Roll of Honour, a song about Republican hunger strikers, and the pro-IRA The Boys of the Old Brigade.

He said: "It's taken its toll on the whole family, particularly on Joseph's mother.

"We've been up and back to ­Dingwall five times. If Joseph had been done for assault I'd hold my hands up. They'd be entitled to drag him through the courts.

"But we've been through the mill and back over allegations he sang two songs. Alex Salmond has a lot to answer to on these laws. He should go to some football games in Europe and witness some real offensive behaviour."

At Mr Cairns's first trial, Sheriff Gilchrist said he had to believe the alleged behaviour would be likely to incite public disorder.

However, Lord Brodie, who heard the appeal with Lady Paton and Lord Philip, said they could not agree. They said that, while the act distinguished between "a reasonable person" and a person "likely to be incited to public disorder" the legislation meant such people need not be present for the purposes of deciding whether specific behaviour was likely to incite disorder.

Yesterday's retrial lasted around one hour, with no evidence led by either side.

Mr Cairns's solicitor, Barry McCormack, said: "The decision of the appeal judges has the potential to criminalise quite a lot of conduct during the course of football matches."

Labour's justice spokesman, former senior police officer Graeme Pearson, said: "Our police officers are being put in an unenviable position of making a judgment about what falls within the freedoms of expression which individuals enjoy and behaviour which falls foul of the law.

This case is evidence that the position our police officers are being put in is simply unacceptable. The legislation needs review."

For the first 13 months of the Offensive Behaviour Act there were 87 convictions from 128 concluded charges.

A Scottish Government ­spokeswoman said: "The Government cannot comment on individual cases, but statistics last month showed there have already been 87 convictions under the Act over the 13 months since it came into effect in March 2012, with over 100 cases still being considered.

"Those convictions were for hateful, threatening and other offensive behaviour likely to incite public disorder and demonstrate the Act is being used to deal with sectarianism and other offensive behaviour at football in the way which it was intended."