The former president of Catalonia has been barred from public life for organising a mock referendum on his country's independence.

Artur Mas held a "consultative" ballot - essentially a mass protest action - in 2014 in the aftermath of Scotland's legally binding poll.

Mr Mas, who has since left office, had been banned from holding a formal plebiscite by Spanish authorities who say his Iberian nation does not have the right to self-determination. A court in Barcelona has now ruled his symbolic action breached a legal order prohibiting a full vote and found him guilty of exceeding his powers.

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Central authorities in May - both judicial and political - have always argued a Scottish-style independence referendum would be unconstitutional. However, the ruling against Mr Mas will inflame passions in Catalonia where support for holding a referendum is higher than support for independence itself.

Mr Mas has said he will take his conviction all the way to the highest courts in Europe.

He said: "We are democrats and we are obliged, as democrats, to listen to the people and obey their mandate at the polls ... We will appeal in Spain and then take the case to European courts, if we need to," Mas said during a conference after the ruling.

Pro-independence have a majority in the Catalan assembly after regional elections which were practically a plebiscite on independence in 2015.

The Herald:

Catalan leaders on Monday immediately latched on to Nicola Sturgeon''s announcement of a second referendum on independence after Mr Mas's conviction. "A mistake! What a difference compared to consolidated and healthy democracies," tweeted Carles Puigdemont, Mr Mas's successor.

Polls in Catalonia show a narrow majority for the union with Spain. A survey by the Catalan government from December showed 45.3 percent would support a new state in the European Union and 46.8 want to remain a constituent part of Spain. A clear majority want a democratic vote on the matter, surveys suggest.