Former SNP adviser blasts ‘ill-conceived’ hate crime Bill

A former SNP adviser has branded the party’s hate crime Bill as “yet another” piece of “ill conceived, badly drafted” legislation.

Alex Bell, a senior policy adviser to Alex Salmond when he was First Minister, criticised the SNP’s “group think” and the lack of rigorous scrutiny its legislation receives in Holyrood.

If passed, the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill would criminalise words deemed “abusive” and “likely” to stir up hatred against particular groups. It would not require any proof of intent.


Writing in The Courier, Bell criticised the Scottish Government for creating such “badly drafted” legislation and failing to learn from its past mistakes.

the Named Person Bill was toxic

He said: “Looking after children better is hugely desirable, but the Named Person Bill was toxic.”

He added: “Something is going very wrong when so many good intentions get snarled up in bad language and law.”

The hate crime Bill has met with fierce criticism since being announced, with former deputy SNP leader Jim Sillars and organisations representing the police and judiciary also expressing concerns about its implications for freedom of expression.


A survey released earlier this week suggested that Scottish councillors are overwhelmingly opposed to the legislation.

The Free to Disagree campaign asked local councillors for their views on free speech and the hate crime Bill, with almost seven in ten respondents saying it “threatens free speech”.

Of the 176 councillors who replied, 85 per cent said the plans were controversial, and two-thirds said they were opposed to the legislation.

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