Tory MSP writes to police claiming 'political bias' over hate incidents

Murdo Fraser has asked the chief constable to explain why a 'hate incident' was recorded against his name but not that of Humza Yousaf or JK Rowling.

Tory MSP writes to police claiming ‘political bias’ over Humza Yousaf and JK Rowling hate incidents Getty Images

A Conservative MSP who had a “non-crime hate incident” (NCHI) recorded against his name has written to the chief constable of Police Scotland about concerns over “political bias”.

Murdo Fraser sent a letter to Jo Farrell to ask why officers chose not to record an NCHI against Humza Yousaf or JK Rowling following several hate crime allegations against them.

Police confirmed this week the First Minister and the Harry Potter author had been reported to them over alleged hate crimes.

It follows the introduction of the Hate Crime and Public Order Act which came into force on Monday.

Members of the public reported the FM over a speech on diversity he made to Holyrood four years ago while Rowling was reported after describing transgender women as men during a post critical of new laws in Scotland.

The claims were dismissed by police but questions had remained over whether NCHIs would be recorded against them.

Non-crime hate incidents (NCHI) are recorded by police when they conclude that the threshold for criminality has not been met.

According to the Police Scotland’s hate crime national guidance (NCNG), a hate incident is recorded when “any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group but which does not constitute a criminal offence (non-crime incident)”.

STV News understands it’s possible, but considered unlikely, that an employer could find out about a NCHI under an enhanced disclosure check, despite no law being broken.

Fraser has accused Police Scotland of “political bias” and has written to the force for clarity on the policy.

He said: “I am writing to you concerning Police Scotland yesterday announcing that, contrary to its stated policy, NCHIs would not be recorded in relation to comments made by First Minister Humza Yousaf and the author JK Rowling.

“I have a number of serious questions which arise from this and for which I would be grateful to have your urgent response.”

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP asked the force to confirm who took the decision and why, if the policy around NCHIs has changed or if that is “only for high-profile and power figures”.

He also asked officers to confirm what happens to the Scots who currently have NCHIs recorded against them.

“Will they be extinguished,” he asked. “If not, why not?”

He added: “Does Police Scotland accept that the decision to record a NCHI in my case, but not in that of the SNP First Minister, suggest political bias?”

Police Scotland has been approached for comment.

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