A LEADING academic has been tasked to define sectarianism within Scots law.

Professor Duncan Morrow will chair the independent working group looking at the scope for a legal definition, Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Annabelle Ewing said.

It comes just over a week after MSPs voted to scrap the Scottish Government's controversial Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, which aimed to tackle sectarianism within football.

The new move, recommended by Holyrood's Justice Committee, will potentially make it easier for police and prosecutors to tackle sectarian behaviour.

Morrow was previously the chair of the Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism in Scotland.

Ewing also announced more than £500,000 of funding for anti-sectarianism work, including teacher and youth work training, engagement with online communities and a school pupil exchange programme to Northern Ireland's Corrymeela community.

Ewing said: "Sectarianism must be tackled with the same conviction as every other hate crime.

"Since 2012 we have delivered an unprecedented range of activities to tackle the issue across Scotland, which have made a significant impact – and this latest funding builds on these achievements.

"We have shown sustained leadership and commitment to this agenda and look forward to working with others who can positively influence the communities they serve so that we can eradicate sectarianism once and for all.

"I thank Professor Morrow for taking forward the important work to consider the legal definition of sectarianism and I look forward to the working group's recommendations."

Morrow said: "The continuing government support for community-based projects is evidence of genuine commitment to tackle sectarian issues where they matter – in real lives.

"I look forward now to taking this opportunity to explore the options for improving the legal basis for protecting against sectarianism."