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Angus SNP councillor denies comparing Scottish Government justice secretary to Hitler

Humza Yousaf MSP Justice Secretary
Humza Yousaf MSP Justice Secretary

An SNP Angus councillor has denied comparing the Scottish Government justice secretary Humza Yousaf to Hitler and Stalin in a tweet about the controversial draft Hate Crime Bill.

Councillor Bill Duff, deputy leader of the county’s SNP group, was responding to criticism of Mr Yousaf’s earlier comments in favour of pursuing offenders for hate speech, even if comments are made inside a person’s private home.

Mr Duff tweeted: “From memory both Stalin and Hitler had means of getting family members to inform on their family. Possibly East Germany too?”

The tweet now appears to have been deleted.

Bill Duff.

He was replying to an earlier message, from Louise Stewart, that said: “Humza Yousaf has done something that no politician has ever achieved he managed to get Indy and Yoons (unionists) to agree that his Wrongspeak Thought crime bill is the most idiotic thing ever proposed.

“Telling a Scot of every race/religion etc what they can say in the privacy of home is nuts.”

When asked about the offending tweet, Mr Duff said he did not directly compare the Scottish Government minister – who lives in Broughty Ferry – to the two dictators.

The Montrose councillor admitted it was a “mistake” to use the language he had chosen but said he had “genuine concerns” about the legislation.

“The Faculty of Advocates and many other groups also have concerns about this legislation. What the justice secretary said earlier this week, I don’t think that would be acceptable.

“The Hate Crime Bill is in draft and I’m sure will be reformed to achieve sensible legislation. It’s a work in progress.”

Mr Yousaf prompted an angry reaction from across the political spectrum to his comments on the draft Hate Crime Bill to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee on Tuesday.

Mr Yousaf suggested that new laws on hate speech, which will crack down on those provoking hatred about protected groups, would be applied to comments made inside the family home.

He told the committee: “Let’s just give an example, which is intentionally stirring up hatred against Muslims. Are we saying that that is justified because it is in the home?”

Criticism has focused on the widening of the “stirring up hatred” offence, with almost 2,000 submissions made to Holyrood’s Justice Committee in response to the proposed new laws, from organisations as diverse as the Scottish Police Federation, Law Society of Scotland and Scotland’s Catholic Bishops.

An SNP spokesman said: “Clearly, the councillor’s comparison was misjudged and wholly inappropriate. It has now been removed and the councillor has apologised.

He added: “Confronting hate crime is central to building a more inclusive Scotland.

“The justice secretary has listened to and reflected carefully on concerns raised over the bill, particularly with regards to stirring up hatred offences, and the bill will be amended at stage 2 accordingly.”

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