THE SCOTTISH Government has been told to look to the example of a string of SNP politicians who voted against elements of hate crime legislation at Westminster – amid opposition calls to redraw similar proposals being drawn up at Holyrood.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf is bringing forward the Hate Crimes Bill, which would make it a criminal offence for people to “stir up hatred”.

Mr Yousaf has stressed that the law “will not prevent people expressing controversial, challenging or even offensive views”, as some have claimed.

He added: “It will not prevent people having or expressing religious views or materials and it will not stifle journalists’ freedoms.

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“What it does do is bring greater clarity, transparency and consistency to Scotland’s hate crime legislation.”

But critics have pointed to the low threshold of criminality introduced by the key phrases of “abusive or insulting” and “likely to” in the bill.

Conservatives have now highlighted the emergence that six SNP MPs, including Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and Pete Wishart, voted to remove similar phrases from the English and Welsh equivalent bill back in 2006.

Voting with the Conservatives against the then- Labour UK Government, the SNP forced the removal of the key phrases “abusive or insulting” and the “likely to” test from the Racial and Religious Hatred Act.

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Now, the Tories claim, the SNP has re-introduced virtually the same “poorly drafted and ill-considered” clauses in their bill.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative justice spokesperson, said: “This is deeply embarrassing for the SNP and Humza Yousaf. It’s clear how completely unworkable these provisions are.

“Even the SNP’s own MPs voted with the Conservative party and against these pernicious phrases. They were poorly drafted and ill-considered at the time and nothing has changed.”

He added: “Organisations and individuals are lining up against this hated legislation.

“Now we know that even SNP stalwarts like Angus Robertson, Stuart Hosie and even Alex Salmond himself voted against these dangerous provisions.

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“These MPs made a stand against censorship in 2006, the SNP must learn from their example and amend this bill to protect our fundamental right to freedom of speech.”

Mr Yousaf said he is "actively looking at areas of compromise" as the proposed bill progresses through the Scottish Parliament.

He added: "I firmly believe the Bill strikes the right balance between respecting freedom of speech and tackling hate speech.

"The Bill does not seek to stifle criticism or rigorous debate in any way, people will still be able to express controversial, challenging or even offensive views as long as this is not done in a threatening or abusive way that is intended to stir up hatred or likely to stir up hatred."