Meechan in an interview in December 2017
17 October 1987
|Occupation||YouTuber, political activist|
|Suzanne Kelly (m. 2019)|
|Also known as||Count Dankula|
|Subscribers||614,000 (Count Dankula)|
119,000 (Count Dankula 2)
12,000 (Count Dankula Streams) - as of 19 October 2019
|Total views||70.9 million (Count Dankula)|
4.5 million (Count Dankula 2)
149,000 (Count Dankula Streams) - as of 19 October 2019
|Updated 19 October 2019|
Markus Meechan (born 17 October 1987) is a Scottish YouTuber and former European Parliament candidate. Known online as Count Dankula, he received press coverage when he posted a satirical video of a dog he had taught to raise its paw in the manner of a Nazi salute, and to react when asked "Do you wanna gas the Jews?" Meechan was subsequently arrested and later convicted following a trial of being "grossly offensive" under the Communications Act 2003 in March 2018. This arrest generated controversy and discussions about free speech. In April 2018, Meechan was fined £800. Meechan stated he would not pay the fine, instead donating £800 to the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity. However, in March 2019, the money was seized from his bank account by an arrestment order.
In April 2016, Meechan posted a video of his girlfriend's pet pug Buddha titled "M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi". At the start of the video, he says: "My girlfriend is always ranting and raving about how cute and adorable her wee dog is so I thought I would turn him into the least cute thing I could think of, which is a Nazi". In the video, the dog is seen raising his right paw in the manner of a Nazi salute (when prompted by the command "Sieg Heil"), watching a speech by Adolf Hitler and responding immediately when asked if he wanted to "gas the Jews". It ends with images of Adolf Hitler and Buddha depicted with a toothbrush moustache similar to the one Hitler sported.[better source needed]
Meechan was subsequently arrested on suspicion of breaching the Communications Act 2003. On 19 March 2018, Meechan was convicted of breaching the act by Sheriff Derek O'Carroll at Airdrie Sheriff Court. The court ruled that Meechan's claim that the video was a joke intended for his girlfriend "lacked credibility" as Meechan's girlfriend did not subscribe to the YouTube channel to which the video was posted. On 23 April 2018, Meechan was sentenced to a fine of £800, with no prison sentence. Approximately 500 people gathered in London to protest for free speech when the sentence was handed out.
Following Meechan's conviction, British comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel had made comments supporting Meechan. Others who opposed the prosecution of Meechan included Kenan Malik, Tim Blair, Helen Dale, Douglas Murray, Tom Walker, Shappi Khorsandi, Jonathan Turley and Stephen Fry. Swedish YouTube comedian PewDiePie also supported Meechan.Index on Censorship CEO Jodie Ginsberg stated that the right to free expression must include the right to offend, "otherwise the freedom is meaningless".
Graham Linehan, creator of the sitcom Father Ted, condemned Meechan, who responded by saying that Linehan's show also contained Nazi-related jokes. Meechan was scrutinised for embracing support from right-wing figures Alex Jones and Tommy Robinson, to which he replied: "Imagine totally abandoning protecting human rights, just because someone you don't like is defending them too. Astounding". On 6 May 2018, Meechan spoke at the "Day for Freedom" rally, which was organized by Robinson, and was described as far-right by news media and observers.
United Kingdom Independence Party Member of the European Parliament for Scotland David Coburn released a two-page statement condemning the ruling as "an embarrassment".Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, brought up Meechan's case in the House of Commons and said: "Can we have a debate about freedom of speech in this country - something this country has long held dear and is in danger of throwing away needlessly?"
Despite public attention, Sheriff O'Carroll noted that there were only "very limited" submission from the defence and the prosecution on the matter of the law as it regards freedom of expression and that because of this the trial was "concerned, ultimately, only with the narrow fact-based question of whether the Crown has proved beyond reasonable doubt that your using a public communications network on one day to post the video onto your video channel, constituted an offence contrary to section 127(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003" and that the ruling sets no precedent.
Meechan started a GoFundMe campaign on 24 April 2018 to raise £100,000 for an appeal and reached his goal as of 25 April. In August 2018, Meechan announced that his request for an appeal had been denied by a member of the Sheriff Appeal Court, who also accused Meechan's lawyer of contempt. The letter stated that the appeal was "not arguable" due to the nature of the "deeply unpleasant offence". Meechan stated that he plans to contest the matter with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. Meechan's lawyer Dorothy Bain subsequently petitioned the High Court of Justiciary to hear the case. Senior judge Lord Carloway opined that the High Court did not have the power to grant an appeal denied by the Sheriff Court. In March 2019, the £800 had been seized from Meechan's bank account under an arrestment order.
On 16 June 2018, Meechan announced that he had joined UKIP along with fellow YouTubers Carl Benjamin and Paul Joseph Watson in what Watson describes as an attempted "soft coup".BBC Scotland planned to feature Meechan in a 2019 debate program called The Collective and had him film two episodes. However, the network announced that these episodes would not be aired after facing backlash over this decision. BBC Three subsequently produced a documentary on Meechan's case which aired during the summer. Meechan's politics are libertarian.
In April 2019, Meechan said he intended to stand for MEP on behalf of UKIP in the upcoming 2019 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom. He was named fourth on UKIP's list in Scotland but was not elected, after UKIP won only 1.8% of the vote in Scotland.
In November 2019, Meechan posted a video announcing that he had left UKIP.