HUMZA Yousaf hit back at Douglas Ross after he claimed the Tory party have a “zero tolerance" approach to hate at First Minister’s Questions.

The Scottish Tory leader repeatedly criticised the Hate Crime Act – which will come into force on April 1 – in the Holyrood chamber on Thursday, first raising the experience of his colleague Murdo Fraser.

Fraser has threatened to take Police Scotland to court for keeping a record of a hate claim against him despite concluding he had not committed a crime.

The Tory MSP said he had been reported to the police after comparing being non-binary to identifying as a cat.

Ross asked: "How can it be right that innocent people are put on the police record when they have done nothing wrong?"

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The First Minister responded that “context” is important and that the recording of non-crime hate incidents comes as a direct result of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.

He added that the practice has been around for “many, many years” – and that there is nothing in the upcoming Hate Crime Act that changes how incidents are recorded.

Ross went on to say that “we all have a zero tolerance approach to hate” but claimed that the law was “ripe for abuse”.

Yousaf then hit back, saying: "I'm not entirely convinced that when you take money from a racist, misogynist, and then refuse to give it back, that's a zero tolerance approach."

Yousaf was referring to the Tory party refusing to hand back a reported £15 million from donor Frank Hester after he allegedly said that Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

The SNP leader then quoted Police Scotland Chief Constable Jo Farrell (below) who said that recording incidents gives the force “a sense of community tensions” and are useful to the police in terms of “engaging with communities, engaging with different groups and communities and being able to understand where there's potential for tensions to be raised”.

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Ross continued on the same line of questioning, claiming that the logging of hate crime incidents will be “stressful, costly, damaging to reputations and could lead to problems in the workplace”.

"Doesn't the First Minister recognize the chilling effect his law will have on free speech," he asked.

The First Minister responded that there are “of course” protections for freedom of expression explicitly within the bill.

“There is a triple-lock protection because there is explicit reference in the bill itself in relation to freedom of expression. They were a matter of compromise between the government and members of the opposition,” he said.

“And, of course, our legislation has to comply with the European Convention of Human Rights and important articles within that in relation to freedom of expression.”

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act will come into force on April 1 and criminalises threatening or abusive behaviour which is intended to stir up hatred against someone who possesses, or appears to possess, certain characteristics.

They are age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics sometimes known as being intersex.