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by Staff Reporter
17 April 2024
SNP deputy leader Keith Brown details series of death threats during hate crime debate

Keith Brown said he has had six death threats | Alamy

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown details series of death threats during hate crime debate

SNP deputy leader Keith Brown has told parliament that he has received six death threats and that his office manager was in court this week trying to take forward a case against “someone who wanted to kill me”.

In a debate brought by the Scottish Conservatives on whether the Hate Crime Act should be repealed, Brown said the abuse faced by parliamentarians “is constant” but added that members have to “accept some responsibility” for “feeding the atmosphere” in which that abuse arises.

He went on to say that he “like many members” has had a series of death threats, adding: “I think I’ve had six death threats now, I’ve had attacks in the constituency.

“My office manager was in the court all day yesterday trying to take forward a case against somebody wanting to kill me.

“The abuse is constant – we all know it’s happening – but let’s accept some responsibility when we feed that atmosphere because it has real-terms consequences.”

In reference to the murders of MPs Jo Cox and David Amess, Brown said “we’ve seen that happen down at Westminster, we don’t want to see it happen here”.    

Brown made the comments after the Tories put forward a motion calling for the Hate Crime and Public Order Scotland Act to be repealed.

Though it was passed by parliament three years ago, the law, which extends existing protections around the stirring up of hatred to groups including the elderly and disabled, only came into force on 1 April.

It has proved controversial due to fears it would impact on freedom of speech, with Police Scotland receiving thousands of reports about alleged hate speech in the days after it was passed, the vast majority of which were dismissed.

Conservative justice spokesman Russell Findlay, who called the law “disastrous” and “every bit as unworkable as many critics warned”, said it “must be repealed”.

However, Brown – who served as justice secretary after First Minister Humza Yousaf, who oversaw the introduction of the act in his previous role – said the Tory bid should be rejected because the law is there to protect vulnerable people.

“We have two different visions in my view of Scotland,” he said. “One is that we can have a law that challenges hate, that has an effect of being able to protect vulnerable communities and we have the Tory vision for Scotland, where such protections are no longer there.

“Not only will we not have the new provisions within this act, we’ll take away previous provisions – we’ll be the least protected part of the UK – that is the vision the Tories have for Scotland and we should reject it at decision time.”

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