CONTROVERSIAL new hate crime legislation is inevitably going to have a "chilling effect" in Scotland, a leading lawyer has said. 

Roddy Dunlop QC, dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said the law could be misused, resulting in malicious complaints to the police.

However, he said the majority of "big-ticket" problems with the legislation have been sorted.

MSPs passed the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill in March despite concerns over freedom of speech.

It followed one of the most heated and contentious Bill processes in the history of the Scottish Parliament.

The legislation creates a criminal offence of stirring up hatred against protected groups, expanding on a similar offence based on race that has been on the statute books for decades, as well as consolidating a number of different pieces of hate crime legislation.

Humza Yousaf, who was then Justice Secretary, was forced to make a number of changes to the Bill during its passage through Holyrood.

The Scottish Conservatives insisted it is "still riddled with glaring flaws". 

In an interview with Holyrood magazine, Mr Dunlop said: “There is inevitably going to be a chilling effect. 

"There is inevitably going to be the possibility that the legislation is misused and results in malicious complaints to the police by people simply looking to cause trouble.

“As we said when the Bill was first put forward, we are supportive of the general aims of the Bill, which are laudable. 

"The vast majority of big-ticket problems we had with it have been amended out.”