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Frank Gilfeather: Hate crime hotline sounds like a ‘jobsworth charter’

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Some of you may have heard of Humza Yousaf.

He’s the Scottish Government’s justice secretary and he has just had his watered-down Hate Crime and Public Order Bill voted through at Holyrood.

He used to be in charge of the country’s transport.

ScotRail – overcrowded, late and dirty trains anyone? Best not go there.

The Hate Crime Bill has been a controversial piece of legislation and, in places, difficult to comprehend.

But it basically informs us that we’ll be marched to the nearest clink if we “stir up” hatred because of age, disability, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity and variations in sex characteristics.

Phew! At least the social media warriors who read this on the EE’s Facebook page and would wish me six feet under will escape the long arm of the law.

Nothing about hatred towards columnists on the list.

On the religious issue, however, we must hope Barlinnie has made adequate segregation arrangements with the aftermath of the upcoming Celtic v Rangers match in mind.

Even without spectators, we can be certain there will be a barrowload of bile being spewed in various parts of Glasgow and beyond on Sunday.

But that’ll be about football, not religion. Won’t it?

I have a feeling a great deal of police time will be wasted that day and we wish them luck in dealing with the extremists in their midst.

Interestingly, the new Bill means you can be the victim of a hate crime without knowing it.

It might not even bother you if and when it’s brought to your attention because someone can be upset on your behalf and call the hate crime hotline.

Sounds like a “jobsworth charter” to me.

Imagine men in high viz jackets with one of those heavy duty battering rams removing your front door from its hinges.

Unfortunately, police officers sometimes don’t check that they have the right door number.

So, just hope you’re not watching Gogglebox when a sergeant and his team arrive in your living room carrying a letterbox and handle, before one of them calls HQ and says: “I thought you said number 42.”

Still, there’s always the possibility of an arrest if they place the letterbox on your lap and you say: “I hate the police.”

Bingo! No, wait; that’s wrong. You’re safe. The police are not on the list either.

The justice secretary believes he has struck the right balance between protecting groups and the right to free speech.

We’ll see.

Nights in Albert Hall spotlight never to be forgotten

The Royal Albert Hall celebrates its 150th anniversary this month as a short YouTube film narrated by Mick Jagger tells the story of this astonishing venue.

Everyone from Frank Sinatra and Jimi Hendrix to Winston Churchill and The Beatles appeared there.

And so did I – twice – though strangely enough, I’m not mentioned in the same breath as those others.

The first time, in 1964, I was under the TV lights boxing for Scotland against England and losing a split decision.

The Last Night of the Proms with punches.

Earlier, before the masses arrived, I was mesmerised by the sheer beauty and scale of the place and asked an attendant: “How many people will be here tonight?”

“Seven thousand!” he said nonchalantly before adding he would be working through the night to prepare the venue for a pop concert 24 hours later featuring The Swinging Blue Jeans and The Seekers.

Remember them?

I was back there two years later to beat England’s best lightweight, Johnny Eales, but was more interested in the remarkable building and that The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan were just two of the acts scheduled to appear there soon after.

Stepping into the spotlight at the Royal Albert Hall was an unforgettable experience.

Happy 150th.

Time to show women’s lives matter

The death of Sarah Everard in such sickening circumstances shocked the nation. The scenes as police officers adopted heavy-handed tactics at the Clapham Common vigil in her memory were also shocking.

Sarah’s story has galvanised women, alarmed at the number attacks against them, too many of which end in the worst possible way.

So, at all this weekend’s sporting events where participants take the knee, let’s make it a statement that Women’s Lives Matter and put the issue centre stage.

It makes complete sense. Doesn’t it?

This article originally appeared on the Evening Express website. For more information, read about our new combined website.