A POLICE officer is under investigation after he allegedly told a woman, who complained about loyalist flute band members dressing up as Nazis at a fancy dress party in an Orange Order hall, that she was “easily offended” and should instead focus on the conduct of former Celtic manager Neil Lennon.

Police Scotland confirmed the probe last night and also pledged to carry out a review of its investigation into the event held in an Airdrie Orange Hall despite officers initially ruling that “no offences have been established”.

Anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth Campaign Director Dave Scott has raised concerns that Police Scotland’s handling of the matter could undermine public confidence in the reporting of hate crime.

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The Sunday Herald revealed in July that the first prize in a 2013 fancy dress competition organised by Airdrie-based Whinhall True Blues Flute Band went to a man and woman dressed as Adolf Hitler and wife Eva Braun, and two children dressed in rags branded with a yellow star similar to the one Jewish people were forced to wear by the Nazis.

Other pictures of the 2013 competition, and an earlier contest in 2010, show men dressed as Catholic clergy, and one who appears to be dressed as the Pope has a noose around his neck to simulate a lynching. In other pictures, published on the band’s official Facebook page which has since been removed, two men hold opposite ends of a child’s toy clad in a Celtic strip at their crotches, while others are blacked-up.

The images – which were condemned by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, the Catholic Church, Nil By Mouth, anti-racism campaigners Show Racism the Red Card and Legion Scotland, which represents military veterans – prompted a Sunday Herald reader, who has asked not to be named to protect her against reprisals, to call police.

“I was horrified,” she said. “On the day I read it I called Police Scotland and complained. I didn’t hear anything back so I called them again on Saturday, August 26 and spoke to an officer who was just so offensive it was unbelievable.”

The officer, who claimed to have 20 years’ experience, allegedly told her “people can dress up in whatever they want” and said she was “easily offended” and “over-sensitive”.

The woman claimed he refused to take details of her complaint, insisting that there was no criminality. “The police officer then said if I want to talk about offensive behaviour I should instead discuss Neil Lennon,” she said.

Hibernian boss Lennon was criticised for his touchline conduct after Hibs’ first goal in a 3-2 victory over Rangers on August 12 at Ibrox. The former Celtic manager cupped his ears and made a gesture as he celebrated, but police decided no criminality took place following complaints by Rangers supporters.

The woman added: “I said I had no interest in discussing Neil Lennon. I then reiterated that I thought the behaviour of people at the fancy dress parties constituted a hate crime but he basically refused to take the complaint.”

When the woman pressed the complaint about the officer’s conduct a senior officer allegedly told her they would have an “informal chat” with the officer and “counsel him about his views”.

However, she insisted the matter be dealt with formally.

She said: “I know the police will have recorded the call and I actually told them to make sure they don’t delete it. I was reassured that no calls are deleted.”

Nil by Mouth’s Scott said: “In recent years Police Scotland have put considerable time and effort into encouraging the public to take hate crime seriously and report any concerns they may have to them.

So it would be very disappointing if it can be proved that individual officers adopt a dismissive approach to concerns which are raised with them. Any reported hate crime should be properly and formally considered by officers and fiscals in order to ensure the public have faith in the system.”

Police Scotland confirmed last night that they are investigating the allegations, however a spokeswoman said the officer had not been suspended.

She said: “We can confirm that a complaint has been received in respect of this and an inquiry is currently ongoing therefore it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Last week, Police Scotland told Scottish news website CommonSpace that officers had “not received any complaints in relation to the content of the [Sunday Herald] article” and “no offences have been established”.

However, a force spokeswoman said last night: “Police Scotland is now aware of a complaint from a member of the public in relation to the content of the article and local officers will be engaging with the individual in relation to the matter.

“The matter will be subject to further assessment in terms of whether any offences have been committed as a result of the publication of the article and its contents.”

Hibernian Football Club and Lennon declined to comment.

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland did not respond to a request for comment.