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Ian Blackford tweet: MP faces legal action after claims of ‘online bullying’

Ian Blackford.

SNP MP Ian Blackford is facing legal action after falsely accusing a photographer of breaking lockdown rules.

The MP for Skye, Lochaber and Ross is accused of libelling Ollie Taylor by using Twitter to ask if he had a “valid reason” for taking pictures of the Northern Lights in Caithness at the weekend.

In a now-deleted tweet, Mr Blackford posted: “As you live in the south of England and travel to Scotland is only for permitted reasons I am sure there will be a valid reason as to why you are posting a photo from the north of Scotland last night?”

However, Mr Taylor had been living in the Highlands since October.

The SNP MP apologised for his tweet and quickly deleted it but not before it had been condemned by opposition parties.

Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie claimed Mr Blackford had “bullied” Mr Taylor because he thought he was English and suggested the SNP politician’s behaviour “could only add to the problems of anti-English sentiment in Scotland”.

Mr Taylor, 40, said that the SNP MP had tried to “stir up public hatred” with his tweet.

And the photographer revealed that he had launched legal action in a bid to get a public apology and damages.

Talking to the Daily Mail, Mr Taylor described Mr Blackford’s previous apology as “pathetic.”

He said: “He knew exactly what he was doing.

“For an MP to be doing that is completely out of order.”

He told how Mr Blackford called him yesterday to try to defuse the row, adding: “He’d deliberately stoked the fire then tried to run away.

“He grovelled a bit, even more, so it seemed when I told him lawyers had contacted me.

“We had a small chat about the fact he has distant English ancestry, and I have a mix of Scottish, English and Irish family.”

In Mr Taylor’s letter of claim, his lawyer Charles Holland points out that his client lives in Halkirk, Caithness and is paying council tax.

It also accuses Mr Blackford of behaving in a manner that was “likely to cause serious harm” to Mr Taylor’s reputation by falsely suggesting he had “committed a criminal offence.”

The letter alleges Mr Blackford sought to humiliate and shame the photographer, adding: “My client appears to be the only recipient of a tweet of this nature from you.

“My client and no other person has been selected by you for a public dressing-down.

“This constitutes unlawful discrimination and harassment.

“You sought to bully my client in public, and you did so in a fashion that can fairly be described as menacing and sinister.

“Your tweet appears to have been designed to humiliate my client. It was discriminatory.”

A spokesman for the MP told the Daily Mail: “Mr Blackford has apologised without reservation to Mr Taylor online as well as in a phone call.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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