What does Scotland think it’s going to do?

World to Scotland: you can’t police us all.

An English barrister will challenge the Scottish government’s “attempt to police the world” by flouting the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act when it comes into force on Monday.

Sarah Phillimore, a child protection lawyer and advocate of women’s sex-based rights, ridiculed Scotland’s “insane” new legislation which could have extraterritorial powers to prosecute crimes perceived as stirring up hatred.

“It’s not just that it’s a really bad law, it’s the fact that we are two countries right next to each other, and there’s the internet,” said Phillimore, who has offices in London and Bristol.

“What does Scotland think it’s going to do? Police the world? I was shocked to discover that if a thing is read in Scotland, it’s considered published in Scotland. People are going to go hell for leather on April 1 and actively invite the police to extradite us, just hoping to overwhelm the system and show how ridiculous this is.”

Especially at a time when the police and even the state consider it a crime to say that a man is not a woman.

The fears expressed by Fair Cop were raised last week after it emerged that a social media post by Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative MSP, had been logged as a non-crime hate incident by officers, an action he described as “disproportionate, discriminatory, intrusive, irrational and otherwise unlawful”.

Fraser was reported by a member of the public in November after he shared a post on Twitter/X which was critical of the Scottish government’s “nonbinary action plan” and said “choosing to identify as non-binary is as valid as choosing to identify as a cat”.

Or a table, or a giraffe, or Delaware, or rain, or an engineer.

Concern has been raised because Police Scotland’s enhanced disclosure programme means that prospective employers can request criminal history information on any person. This can include unspent convictions, relevant spent convictions, information from the sex offenders register and other relevant information held by police. This last category would include non-crime hate incidents.

And of course “non-crime hate incidents” very much include saying that men are not women.

While the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act brings many areas of Scottish law broadly in line with legislation in England and Wales, there is belief that Police Scotland’s “victim-led” approach will penalise people who refuse to accept opinions such as “transwomen are women”, advanced by Stonewall, Scottish Trans and campaign groups part-funded by the Scottish government.

That belief is based on various actions of Police Scotland over the past few years. It’s not random.

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