THE editor of The Spectator has suggested Scotland’s free bus travel policy is linked to the death of a bus driver in Elgin.

Stagecoach bus driver Keith Rollinson, 58, died at Dr Gray’s Hospital on Friday, after being assaulted at a bus station. A teenager has been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Sharing an article concerning the death, Spectator editor Fraser Nelson wrote: “When I was on Question Time in Glasgow last week, an audience member said giving free bus travel for all under-22s meant kids running amok in some areas, raising concerns amongst drivers. Was first I had heard of it.”

Reacting to the post, SNP MSP Jim Fairlie said he had "no idea" how the journalist could turn Rollinson's death "into a political jibe".

Fairlie wrote: “Last week I said in a debate that I was sickened at how low some were prepared to take our political discourse, here they totally outdo themselves.

“My thoughts are with the family of the deceased; I have no idea how he could turn it into a political jibe.”

Fairlie added: “I have no issue with sense checking on policies that have been enacted, in fact I would say it’s good practice to so, but that’s not the same as was done here.”

When Nelson appeared on Question Time last week, the show considered whether “things like free prescriptions and free travel for young people” should be scrapped in Scotland.

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Members of the audience spoke both for and against the policies.

Two young members of the audience, both in full-time education, said the free bus pass policy was a great help for them attending university and saving money.

“It's just exactly the sort of thing the Government should be doing, helping folk,” one audience member said.

Another man was applauded when he said he was happy to pay more tax.

One lady raised concerns that free bus travel was “encouraging obesity” among young people, while another said she did not believe “youngsters should be having free travel [because] when I was young, we never got it”.

Unite the union demanded stronger legal protection for bus drivers in Scotland, with Unite general secretary Sharon Graham stating: “The appalling news that Mr Rollinson died following an assault at work has shaken our union to its core. We want to express our deep and sincere condolences to Mr Rollinson’s family at this unbearably difficult time.

“The stark reality is that bus drivers regularly and routinely confront dangerous incidents. It has become an intolerable occupational hazard for bus drivers on a daily basis, especially for those working late at night and in remote areas.

"Any abuse of workers is entirely unacceptable and Unite will continue to do everything possible to ensure that proper measures are in place to protect workers.”