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MSP’s details not held in non-crime hate incident records, police say

Police have said the personal details of an MSP were not recorded in relation to a non-crime hate incident logged against him.

Murdo Fraser complained to police when he learned a social media post of his had been reported to the force and was logged after not having met the criminal standard.

Mr Fraser had been critical of the Scottish Government’s stance on non-binary people in the post.

In a response to a letter of complaint, where he accused the force of breaching the law, a chief inspector in Police Scotland’s professional standards department said: “I am aware an officer from our National Complaint Assessment and Resolution Unit contacted you direct to discuss the matter on 26th March 2024.

“During the conversation regarding allegation one (that guidance on non-crime hate incidents breaches data protection law) it was confirmed to you, your personal details were not recorded on Police Scotland’s Interim Vulnerable Persons Database in relation to the hate incident in question.”

Mr Fraser also alleged a breach of the Human Rights Act and the Equality Act.

The force said an officer had been allocated to investigate those allegations, which the letter described as “complex”.

A non-crime hate incident is recorded when an incident does not meet the threshold for a crime but is perceived to be “motivated (wholly or partly) by malice and ill-will towards a social group”, according to Police Scotland guidance.

On Thursday, the day the response was received, Mr Fraser wrote again to Police Scotland to clarify its policy on the recording of non-crime hate incidents.

In a letter to Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell, he asked if different standards are applied for such incidents if the accused are “high-profile and powerful figures”, after reports against First Minister Humza Yousaf and Harry Potter author JK Rowling were not logged.

He also asked if the decision to record his case as such and not the First Minister’s “suggests political bias”.

The issue has come against the backdrop of the rollout of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, which has proven controversial and led to thousands of reports this week.

The Bill consolidates hate crime legislation and creates an offence of stirring up hatred against certain protected characteristics, but detractors have warned it could chill free speech.

Approached for comment, Mr Fraser told the PA news agency: “I’m grateful to finally get a response from Police Scotland and I await a more detailed explanation as to why they believe, unlike the police in England, why their policy on recording ‘hate incidents’ is lawful.

“I would, however, contest their claim that I accept that there has been no breach of the Data Protection Act.

“I still await a response to my equally serious letter today on why I have been targeted by the police whilst the SNP First Minister has escaped any action.”