Man convicted of sending tweet linking Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf to terrorism

A man has been found guilty of sending an inflammatory tweet that suggested Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf sympathised with terrorists.
Justice Secretary Humza YousafJustice Secretary Humza Yousaf
Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf

The message appeared on the Twitter feed of Mr Yousaf, who was then minister for external affairs, on November 14 2015, the day after the Paris terror attacks.

It came from the Twitter account of a Stuart Ben Smith.

The message said: “Humza Yousaf, good Scots name. I am sure he is 90 per cent backing Muslim killers. Be having a whip round for terrorist families soon.”

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Giving evidence at his trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Stuart Smith said the Stuart Ben Smith account belonged to him but denied posting the message, which was a reply to a tweet from another person’s account.

Smith, 63, was accused of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner likely to cause a reasonable person to suffer fear or alarm by posting an abusive comment to Twitter that contained grossly offensive and derogatory remarks regarding a religion.

It was alleged the offence, in Glasgow and elsewhere, on November 14 2015 was aggravated by religious prejudice.

Sheriff Sean Murphy found Smith guilty and said he holds him responsible for posting the tweet.

He agreed with procurator fiscal depute Mark Allan that the tweet was “inflammatory” and said it was “reckless” to post it.

Mr Murphy said: “It displays a bias against the Islamic faith and clearly was designed to produce such feelings in the minds of others by the public posting of the message.”

He said it would cause “fear and alarm” for members of Scottish society.

Giving evidence on Tuesday, Smith, from Gretna, Dumfries and Galloway, was questioned about the tweet by his defence agent Ian McClelland, who asked: “Did you write that?”

Smith replied: “No, I did not write that.”

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He told the court he had previously had issues with things he had not posted ending up on his Twitter account, which has a gun as its profile picture.

Smith said he sometimes received emails telling him he may have been hacked.

Mr McClelland said: “We have seen about a post that seems to have been attributed to you and you must have seen it on your account now?”

He replied: “When I was shown it at the police station I went back into my computer but it was two years before that it happened and I could not see it on my computer and I could not find it personally on my feed.”

But under cross-examination from Mr Allan, he accepted he tweeted messages on similar themes such as politics and religion on November 14.

Mr Allan said: “It seems you agree Mr Smith that on your Twitter account on November 14 you were posting tweets to that account about Islam, terrorism, making reference to a suicide bomber who blew himself up in Paris on Friday night and a book you read about the next world war being between Western civilisation and Islam is that correct?”

Mr Smith replied: “Yes.”

The 63-year-old, a former farmer, will return to court for sentencing on December 11 pending reports.

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