ONLINE abuse directed at Edinburgh Olympic hero Sir Chris Hoy over his views on Scottish independence has been condemned by politicians.
The six-time cycling gold medallist warned in a radio interview earlier this week that Olympic stars of the future will find it harder to reach the top if Scotland became independent.
But he refused to say how he would vote in next year’s referendum, saying he did not want to get into a “hornet’s nest”, adding he was “a cyclist, not a politician”.
He said: “I’ve said numerous times how proud I am to be Scottish and how proud I have been to compete for Britain, too, and I don’t think these two things necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.”
But pro-independence supporters took to Twitter and news websites to attack Sir Chris.
He was called “a traitor”, an “Uncle Tom”, a “typical Scots Tory naysayer” and a member of “an English dominated national sports program which concentrates on advancing the English cause”.
Twitter user J McG Linklater – whose profile picture includes the SNP logo - wrote: “I’ve always said Hoy is a bigoted anti-Scot.”
Others attacked Sir Chris’s upbringing and his schooling at George Watson’s. One said: “Schooled at an expensive Edinburgh private establishment where pupils were expected to sing God Save the Queen on a regular basis - maybe it got engrained?”
Tory Scotland Office Minister David Mundell said the negative and personal tone of the attacks were “shameful”. He said: “This could deliver lasting damage to damage Scotland’s reputation abroad and lead to unnecessary hostility here at home.
“Everyone has a responsibility to guard against the independence debate leaving scars that last well beyond September next year.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The Nationalists seek to silence everyone they disagree with. If this is the kind of Scotland we’ll get with independence, I
am sure even more will
reject the Nationalists’ plans.”
A spokesman for the SNP condemned the attacks but said online abuse was not the preserve of one political persuasion. He said Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had received death threats on Twitter and “appalling remarks” were made on the Labour Party website about Alex Salmond’s father.
The spokesman said: “All of it must stop, because the referendum debate needs to be a positive one.”