A furious reaction was sparked as news emerged on Thursday that controversial presenter Katie Hopkins had apparently secured bookings to speak to children at Scottish schools.
Ms Hopkins was sacked from broadcaster LBC for a tweet apparently endorsing a ‘Final Solution’ following the Manchester Arena attack in May.
The Daily Mail columnist is now promoting her ‘Stand Strong School Tour’, with talks aimed at ‘Key Stage 4 students in state schools across the UK’.
According to publicity materials for the tour, the speech and Q and A session is “an opportunity to look at the information we are fed, to challenge the views we hold and to understand opinions are never right or wrong.”
It lists a number of potential case studies for the Trump-supporting broadcaster to discuss with pupils, most of which, such as identity politics and political correctness, have been regular topics of conversation for Ms Hopkins.
Her reactionary comments after recent terror attacks across Europe have made her a divisive figure, though she has found right-wing US news channel Fox a more welcoming platform than UK broadcasters.
Arguably the most controversial comments made by Ms Hopkins was when she compared migrants fleeing across the Mediterranean as ‘cockroaches’ and said she preferred using gunboats to rescue boats.
Ms Hopkins said she was waiting with “baited (sic) breath” for the opinion of Education Secretary John Swinney, who replied: “It’s “bated” breath, as anyone hoping to educate our youngsters should know.”
She has subsequently accused the Scottish Government, who they described as someone unsuitable to speak to schoolchildren, of being ‘wildly intolerant of other people’s views.’
Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie reacted furiously to the news, tweeting: “Deeply troubling suggestion that this racist self-publicist might be invited into schools.
“If this happens in your community, challenge it!”
Mike Dailly, campaigner and Principal Solicitor at the Govan Law Centre, wrote: “Can’t believe any school in Scotland would book @KTHopkins, a hawker of contumelious and vituperative language.”
The Scotsman’s coverage of the apparent booking of Ms Hopkins generated nearly 800 comments from readers, with strong opinions on both sides of the debate.
On Facebook, Edward John Matheson wrote: “I’d be taking my kids out of school if this vile woman was going to be talking to them she should not be given airtime.”
Rebecca McKinney added: “I’m all for kids being exposed to a different point of view. However, this particular individual is crude, mean and bigoted – the last things schools need is a high profile bully coming in.”
James Melvin asked: “Surely this woman shouldn’t be near children and attempting to influence them with her poisonous views and opinions?”
A number of readers also queried how Ms Hopkins could be trusted to behave properly in front of children given she openly admitted that she judges a child based on whether she approves of their name.
A significant minority online defended the broadcaster as a breath of fresh air and a bulwark to what some claim are wide-spread left-wing sympathies among teachers.
Sam Birkett commented: “I don’t agree with much of what she says but she has a right to free speech and children have a right to a range of views and opinions (as long as they are taught the skills to think critically about what is said by others)”.
Over 9,000 people voted in our online poll asking whether readers would want Ms Hopkins to give a talk at their children’s school.
As of 3pm on Friday, 81 per cent of those who voted were opposed to the talks, despite Ms Hopkins tweeting a link to the poll to her ‘team’ of supporters, in an apparent attempt to alter the results.