Lord Hope calls for repeal of Hate Crime Act

Lord Hope calls for repeal of Hate Crime Act

Lord Hope

Former lord president and Supreme Court justice Lord Hope of Craighead has called for Scotland’s new hate crime legislation to be withdrawn, describing it as the result of “gesture politics”.

The former judge said the legislation’s aims could have been achieved by simply amending Scotland’s public order legislation to include other characteristics, The Times reports.

“Hate crime is a most unfortunate name for the bill,” Lord Hope said. “It raises all sorts of thoughts in people’s minds, without any idea of what the bill is actually saying.”

Lord Hope added: “I have no complaint with the intention of the bill. But it has misfired because it uses a very provocative title that leads people to think there’s more in it than there really is, when you read through the detail.”

He explained: “It’s no good for the first minister to say, ‘Please be decent and don’t trouble the police with vexatious complaints’. People don’t behave like that.”

The crossbench peer also pointed to the burden on the police.

“I think it’s unworkable if the police are going to have to administer this, because they have the burden of sifting and recording a myriad of complaints by people who are not really aware of the details of the legislation,” he said.

He said the legislation was also unclear on what constituted stirring up hatred.

“It’s not just a matter of behaving in a manner [someone] might consider abusive,” he said. “It also has to be proved that the person intended to stir up hatred against a group of people, based on the characteristics mentioned, and that’s a pretty difficult thing to establish.”

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