A LABOUR MSP who played a leading role in the repeal of a contentious anti-sectarianism law has backed an independent review into football policing.

James Kelly issued the call after a spat between the single force and a fans’ group over police officers filming supporters at a Celtic friendly match.

Introduced by Alex Salmond’s SNP Government, the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act (OBFA) was passed in response to trouble at an Old Firm match and after parcel bombs were sent to former Celtic manager Neil Lennon and others.

However, the law was derided by legal experts, football supporters and opposition politicians who believed it singled out fans for special treatment.

Kelly, a Glasgow MSP, secured cross-party support this year to repeal a law that was described by one sheriff as “mince”.

Although the Act has been scrapped, prosecutors have rebadged the outstanding charges as breaches of different legislation, a move critics believe is symptomatic of wider problems with the way football fans are dealt with by the criminal justice system.

During a recent pre-season friendly between Celtic and Standard Liege at Parkhead, a police officer pointed a video camera at a group of fans. After the incident was flagged up by Fans Against Criminalisation – a group which was set up to oppose the OBFA – the official Police Scotland Twitter account responded: "Officers were deployed as a result of pro IRA songs being sung by a section of the crowd."

The force added: “If you don’t want police filming supporters at the game, don’t commit a crime”. Both tweets were posted in the name of Superintendent John McBride.

Kelly said: “Despite the repeal of the Act four months ago, the policing strategy at games can feel over the top and I have heard from numerous fans that it is ruining their match days. Only the other weekend we saw a cop pointing a video camera at a stand filming individual fans just watching the football, and then the official Police Scotland account sending passive aggressive tweets telling fans not to commit crime.

“At any other event you would expect to be treated with dignity by the police. That is sadly not the case in Scotland. Football fans are second-class citizens to the SNP Government, and that is why Labour is calling for an independent review of the way football policing is carried out.”

FAC asked the Police Scotland for clarification of the tweets, after which McBride emailed the group about the controversy: “I was the match commander of that fixture and prior to the game information had been received that 'Ultra' fans from Belgium would be attending the fixture. Being unaware of the threat these fans posed, I instructed officers with cameras be included in the match day operation.”

He added: “At no time in my response on Twitter did I indicate that I felt that anyone connected with Fans Against Criminalisation were (or indeed are) in any way responsible for any of the actions that led to the police filming fans at that fixture and I would hope that you accept this communication as confirmation of that.”

Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins said: "The policing of football matches is under constant review and while there is a general framework of how we approach them, the tactics and deployments will vary dependent on circumstances such as the nature of the match and the risk associated with it. As in the past, I or my colleagues will happily meet with any supporters' groups to discuss any concerns they may have."