RISHI Sunak has backed author JK Rowling after she said she is “looking forward to being arrested” over the Hate Crime Act.

The new legislation came into force on Monday, with a protest taking place outside the Scottish Parliament.

The Harry Potter author – a fierce critic of the Scottish Government – said the legislation is “wide open to abuse” in an April Fool’s “joke” post.

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In a statement given to The Daily Telegraph, Sunak promised that his party will “always protect” free speech.

“People should not be criminalised for stating simple facts on biology,” he said.

“We believe in free speech in this country, and Conservatives will always protect it.”

In a social media post criticising the new laws, Rowling (below) insisted that the “legislation is wide open to abuse by activists who wish to silence those of us speaking out about the dangers of eliminating women’s and girls’ single-sex spaces”.

The National: JK Rowling has said she will not delete social media posts which may breach new Scottish hate crime laws (Yui Mok/PA)

She argued: “It is impossible to accurately describe or tackle the reality of violence and sexual violence committed against women and girls, or address the current assault on women’s and girls’ rights, unless we are allowed to call a man a man.”

The children’s author also appeared to challenge police to arrest her if her social media posts break the new laws.

“I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment,” she said.

Humza Yousaf has declared that he is “very proud” of the new laws, saying they will help protect against a “rising tide” of hatred.

The Scottish First Minister also insisted he is “very confident in Police Scotland’s ability in order to implement this legislation in the way it should”.

He also hit out at Joe Rogan and Twitter/X owner Elon Musk for their criticism of the new legislation, branding them "right-wing actors".

It comes despite the force confirming more than a third of its officers have not yet completed an online training course in the new laws – with Deputy Chief Constable Alan Speirs saying that 10,000 of the force’s 16,000 plus officers have done so.

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However Yousaf said Chief Constable Jo Farrell had “made it very clear the appropriate training is absolutely being provided”.

She said recently that the new laws will be applied “in a measured way”, promising there will be “close scrutiny” of how the legislation is enforced and what reports are received.