A BELLSHILL licensee has been cleared of illegally screening English Premier League football matches in his pub.
A sheriff ruled last week there was no evidence Robert Douglas (62) knew anything about a cheap foreign satellite package which allowed the Burns Bar to show games for a fraction of the price charged by broadcasting giant Sky.
His trial followed a landmark case involving a pub landlady in Portsmouth who won the right to screen Premier League football using pictures from a Greek company instead of subscribing to Sky.
Sky claims exclusive rights to show certain games in the UK, but the European Court ruled that was contrary to European Union law.
However, a decision was taken to prosecute Mr Douglas because the Burns Bar was getting its pictures using a package from an Albanian company which is not in the EU.
Although Sheriff Ray Small studied the 82-page Portsmouth ruling, he made no mention of it in his judgment.
The sheriff told Mr Douglas: “There is no evidence that you were present in the bar on the relevant dates and were aware these programmes were being shown.
“There is no evidence you ever received a warning letter and information package - sent by recorded delivery to the bar rather than your home - or that you played any part in the installation of the decoder and receiver in the bar.”
The licensees of two other pubs in the area have also been on trial recently accused of similar offences.
Their cases were put on hold while Sheriff Small considered arguments in the Burns Bar trial.
The Crown Office said no decision has yet been taken on whether those cases will resume.
See this week’s Bellshill Speaker for more.