In the decade since Humza Yousaf entered Holyrood he has established himself as the Forrest Gump of Scottish politics, surfacing at a department every time it was bedevilled by controversy, misfortune or error

The early years

Humza Yousaf was born on 7 April 1985 in Glasgow, Scotland. He enjoyed a trouble free lifestyle being privately educated at Hutchesons’ Grammar School, a fee paying independent school in Glasgow then going on to study Politics at the University of Glasgow, graduating with an MA in 2007.

He left university to work as a parliamentary assistant for a number of MSPs and has been financed from the public purse ever since. He has no experience of work outside the public sector.

In 2008, he took part in the International Visitor Leadership Program, a professional exchange sponsored by the US secret service and run by the US State Department.

In May 2011 he entered the Scottish Parliament as an additional member for the Glasgow region and was appointed Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the office of the First Minister.

On 5 September 2012, he was appointed Minister for External Affairs and International Development.

When Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister in November 2014, she appointed him Minister for Europe and International Development.

Transport Minister

On 18 May 2016, he was promoted Minister for Transport and the Islands and was at the centre of controversay and public criticism over the poor performance of ScotRail, with its trains facing severe delays, cancellations and overcrowding.

Sturgeon was called upon to sack him over his shambolic handling of transport after the prolific Twitter-using Transport Minister admitted he knew nothing about his brief as he tried to defend his failings.

He was quizzed by MSP’s at Holyrood over his administration’s handling of the beleaguered network amid stalled projects and declining services after it emerged the bill for rail upgrades had rocketed by £379 million.

The intervention became necessary when a report from quango Transport Scotland revealed the cost of five schemes had risen to £1.5 billion from £1.1 billion.

The transport workers union Aslef called for Mr Yousaf to be sacked amid a growing crisis on the railway network.

Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan said: “The Scottish government response to the rail crisis has been pathetic. “Transport Minister Humza Yousaf has stood by while Abellio Scotrail takes Scotland’s passengers and taxpayers for a ride.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice..

On 26 June 2018, Sturgeon rewarded failure and promoted him to the Scottish Cabinet to serve as Cabinet Secretary for Justice (without holding a mandatory Law degree).

His first flagship policy was his controversial Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill, which he promised would streamline existing legislation as well as add additional protections to persecuted minorities while maintaining rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

The bill was heavily criticised by the Catholic Church, the National Secular Society as well as writers, and in September 2020 he was forced to radically amend it removing prosecution for cases of unintendedly stirring up hate, which could theoretically include libraries stocking contentious books.

In October 2020, he went back on his word saying that the exception to the Public Order Act 1986 allowing people to use otherwise illegal language in their own homes should be abolished.

SNP veteran Jim Sillars described the bill as “one of the most pernicious and dangerous pieces of legislation ever produced by any government in modern times in any part of the United Kingdom”.

On the 10th June 2020, Humza Yousaf, MSP and Justice Secretary of the Scottish Parliament, held a speech in which he complained about racism in Scotland and that the majority of people in positions of power in the education, healthcare and justice sectors being white, although he failed to mention that 98% of the people in Scotland are white and this will be a contributing factor. (

His social media shenanigans on Twitter got him into several scrapes when he was Justice Secretary.

He rushed to slam Rangers football players on Twitter for being filmed supposedly making sectarian chants – a video which was subsequently shown to be a fake, for which Yousaf refused to apologise.

The rush to judgement which was all the more troubling in light of his responsibility for the Scottish prosecution service.

The malicious prosecution of Rangers Football Club Directors was the illegal prosecution of innocent men in Scotland by the Crown Office and the Procurator Fiscal Service, with taxpayers being hit with a £51million and rising compensation bill with every penny being taken from front-line services.

A senior police officer who abused his power resigned, and a sheriff who abused his power is also resigning. Sturgeon and Yousaf the Cabinet Secretary for Justice remain silent on a scandal that contaminates Scottish justice.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care

The SNP was returned to government in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election and he was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care.

He disappointed the public with his response to the Covid pandemic with a botched attempt to grab a headline when he announced that ten children up to the age of nine had been admitted to Scottish hospitals in the previous week “because of Covid”.

Professor Steve Turner, Scotland officer for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, contradicted him and said that children’s wards were “not seeing a rise in cases with Covid” and added that the children in question had been hospitalised for other reasons.

Yousaf apologised for causing “any undue alarm”.

In July, the World Health Organisation concluded that six out of Europe’s ten virus hotspots were in Scotland.

Tayside topped the list with 1,002 cases per 100,000 head of population.

The Scottish Government was accused of being ‘missing in action’ after it emerged that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Yousaf himself were all away on holiday at the time.

Yousaf said he had promised to take his stepdaughter to Harry Potter World, tweeting that: “Most important job I have is being a good father, step-father & husband to my wife and kids”.

In September 2021, the average waiting time for an ambulance in Scotland soared to six hours and his response was to urge the public to “think twice” before calling the emergency services.

Opposition politicians and the public criticised his offhand remark as “reckless messaging that could put lives at risk” and instead urged people to ignore him and call an ambulance if they thought they needed one.

Following reports of elderly Scots dying whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive, he asked the Ministry of Defence for help and soldiers from the British Army were deployed to drive ambulances.

Audit Scotland concluded that 500 people died in Scotland in 2021 due to delayed access to emergency treatment.

Covid & PPE scandals

Haraldur Agustsson the CEO of Globus (Shetland) is a member of the notorious Tory dining club “The Leaders Group”. His company donated £400,000 to the Conservative Party since 2016, won a £93.8 million contract for the supply of FFP3 respirators.

The value of the contract being equivalent to the total revenue of the company over the past two years.

In 2019, the company turned over £50 million, following a £45.8 million turnover in 2018.

The UK Government awarded the deal without going to competitive tender, taking advantage of an EU loophole that allows governments to procure supplies rapidly during an emergency. None of the contracts cited in this article went to competitive tender.

Globus (Shetland) also arranged its subsiduary Alpha Solway’s partnership with the Scottish Government which began in 2020 when, albeit with no previous experience in making masks for healthcare use, the company received an order worth £53 million for 232 million surgical masks and 2 million visors to meet demand for Scotland’s health and social care sectors.

Globus saw spectacular growth in 2020 and 2021, such that the company’s valuation was put at more than £1 billion and its Alpha Solway subsidiary experienced an explosive revenue rise for the 12 months ending in May 2021 of over 420%, with pre-tax profits soaring by nearly 540 per cent, an increase from 2019 of over £23.5 million!

How did the Scottish experiment with transparent masks progress?

From a financial point of view, there is a equally disappointing and depressingly predictable picture.

In a press release in 2021 it was claimed that only 10 per cent of the masks had been distributed, leaving a further 2,070,000 in storage cupboards somewhere or destroyed.

An ending similar to that which Yousaf presided over earlier in the Covid crisis when half a million masks past their expiry date had to be withdrawn from NHS Scotland’s stockpile?

This represented, conservatively, a possible waste of public funds to the tune of £4.5Million, money that might have been spent on employing 130 nurses for a year.

And there is no hard evidence that a single life has been saved by the use of these masks; in fact, the very lack of PR by politicians or health executives since their unveiling suggests strongly that there have been no patient – or staff – benefits whatsoever.

Steerpike of “The Spectator” wrote:

“No man has blundered more regularly than Humza Yousaf. In the decade since his election to Holyrood he has established himself as the Forrest Gump of Scottish politics, popping up at a department every time it is bedevilled by controversy, misfortune or error. The botched launch of his much-vaunted Covid app is just the latest in a series of scandals which have stalked him through his years in public life.

Sturgeon’s resignation

Following the announcement of Nicola Sturgeon’s intention to resign as leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland, a leadership election was triggered and on 18 February 2023, he declared his candidacy to succeed Sturgeon.

At his campaign launch, He firmly backed the Gender Bill and gay marriage including the pursuit through the courts of the SNPs controversial gender legislation, despite it being a sticking issue for many faith groups including Islam.

The Self-ID policy would allow someone who is trans to hide their biological sex, a significant challenge for those who follow faiths that require distance between men and women.

It is feared that single-sex sports classes, swimming sessions and other services will no longer be an option for women who are not allowed to have physical contact or be alone with men regardless of gender identity.

During the committee stage of the Bill, the concerns of Orthodox Jews, Muslims and Sikhs were heard in relation to healthcare and single-sex spaces, where again, these individuals would require health services to provide a biologically female professional, or there is a risk of the community would not seek healthcare.

The Indian Council of Scotland claimed the Indian community will not feel safe if Humza Yousaf became First Minister. The move was backed up by the Muslim Council of the UK. A spokesman said:

“We as a community do not feel safe with Yousaf as the First Minister in Scotland. The Indian community – is a community of all faiths that includes Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, and Judaism. Our community is law-abiding, hard-working, and proud of our country. Yousaf attacked a nursery publicly and has now walked away without apology. Surely, his integrity must be called into question? He stoked up racial tensions in the Indian Hindu community, and this is not acceptable. Yousaf has been incompetent in every role that he served in from Justice to Transport and now Health. If he was the First Minister, it would be an economic disaster for Scotland. How can we have such a person as First Minister”?

Yousaf also previously avoided a key vote on gay marriage claiming that he could not avoid discussing the case of a Scot on death row in Pakistan but it was revealed that he requested a meeting with the Consul on the day of the vote, thereby creating a clash only two days after being told to be in parliament for the vote.

On Twitter when he was asked why he missed the vote, he responded saying:

“Meeting Pakistan Consul discussing Scot on death row accused under Blasphemy Law not one could/want avoid.” But Mr Ashgar was sentenced to death for blasphemy eight days after the meeting meaning his “death row” status was not known at the time the meeting was set up.

Personal life

Marriage One

Yousaf was married to Essex-born former SNP employee Gail Lythgoe from 2010 to 2016.

Lythgoe, a graduate teaching assistant at Glasgow University’s law school, was convener of the SNP’s student wing from 2010 to 2012 and sat on the SNP’s ruling national executive.

She was also a parliamentary assistant to SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, and worked at the Yes Scotland campaign in the 2014 referendum.

The split was not made public and only only emerged after Yousaf blamed it when he was fined £300 and had six penalty points added to his driving licence, after being caught by police driving a friend’s car without insurance.

Pleading guilty to the offence he said the incident was the result of stress brought about by his personal circumstances during his separation”.

Yousaf said the final split with his wife was amicable but since then she has left the SNP and actively urged people to vote for the Scottish Greens in the local election instead of the SNP. She wrote: Glasgow needs diversity not cult-like voting habits, vote green.”

Marriage two

In 2019, he married Nadia El-Nakla, a divorcee with one child and fathered a child with her.

He and his second wife had a case of discrimination upheld on technical grounds in the admission policy of a Dundee children’s nursery, who had refused to admit their child but it was found to be administrative issues rather than discrimination and they did not pursue the matter due to negative public feedback.

Nadia El-Nakla wife two

was previously married to Fariad Umar, an IT expert who in November 2015 suspected his wife of cheating on him and used computer software to examine her mobile phone history uncovering her affair with a fellow SNP member, local Councillor Craig Melville.

Of more concern to him, other than the affair was a string of vile racist texts the councillor had allegedly sent to his wife and he emailed some of them to the local SNP office and other politicians in December of that year, complaining about Melville’s alleged behaviour.

A response was not forthcoming from the SNP for over 2 years but finally following police intervention Melville appeared in Dundee Sherrif Court in January 2018, charged over the offensive messages.

In his evidence Faraid told the court he was so disgusted by the messages allegedly sent: “Initially, I was only thinking about the affair – but later I thought that someone in his elected position shouldn’t have these views so I sent them to MSPs and his bosses.

After what I had discovered, I thought he may not be giving the community the best. I thought it was serious so I left his bosses to investigate.”

Asked by prosecutor Joanne Smith what the party chiefs’ reaction was, he added: “No one has ever come back to me to say what was happening. I’m still waiting for an answer.”

Earlier, Fariad told the court he checked his wife’s text messages while she was sleeping because he thought she was having an affair.

He quickly became suspicious of an apparent conversation she had with her best friend Karen.

He said: “The language wasn’t what Karen would use so I checked the number with one I had for her on my phone and they were different.

When I called the Karen on my wife’s phone, a man answered.

I immediately hung up and confronted Nadia and she played down the relationship.

I then used the data recovery software to download all her deleted messages and discovered the racist texts I found concerning.

I didn’t like the messages at all because in some he was referring to God. I wasn’t happy with what I was reading.”

Fariad said he downloaded the texts onto a disc that was handed to police investigating a seperate allegation of an incident at the city’s mosque – a matter that was never brought to court.

Ms Smith asked him: “If it was suggested that you somehow manufactured or fabricated these messages, what would you say to that?”

He replied: “I’d say that’s a lie.”

Melville, 37, who resigned his post as a Dundee City councillor and aide to SNP MP Stewart Hosie over the allegations, is alleged to have sent the texts to Nadia on the two days after the 2015 Paris terror attacks.

The texts to Nadia El-Nakla – an aide to Health Minister Shona Robison – included one describing a Muslim youth worker in Dundee as a “horrible ct” and another saying “I just f***g hate your religion”.

One text allegedly read: “It’s not personal I just f*g hate your religion and I’ll do all in I’m life do defeat your filth.”

Another text said: “And in your favour we live in an uneducated left lift loopy left wing society who is more interested in claiming benefits and being ignorant to the threat of your horrible disease which is a make believe **** in the sky. “Horrible murdering Islamic *****.”

Another text said: “And Muslim politicians in the UK have a duty to speak out and educate. “That should be their number one priority, not staged photos taking refugees off boats and writing patronising messages of support.”

Earlier, the court heard Nadia admitting the affair with Melville.

She said she deliberately changed his name on her phone to Karen to avoid suspicion as they were calling and texting each other so much.

She said: “I would delete messages from Craig so my husband wouldn’t see them.

I had his name stored under the name of Karen because he messaged me all the time.

“My husband would be suspicious because we messaged constantly throughout the day.

“I showed the racist text messages to a friend on the Monday who was also a friend of Craig’s. I asked him, ‘I know people get drunk but is this a bit far or what?’

“I felt the messages were a wee bit harsh – but people say and do things when they’re drunk they don’t actually mean.”

The court also heard from Detective Constable Paul McIlravey who confirmed that no racist messages were actually recovered from Nadia’s phone and the only evidence provided to him was the CD given to him by Fariad.

Melville, of Marlee Road, Dundee, denied a charge under the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act, which is alleged to have been aggravated by religious prejudice.

Court documents allege that between November 13 and 15, 2015, at Marlee Road, Dundee, he behaved in a threatening and abusive manner towards El Nakla.

Prosecutors say he behaved in a way “likely to cause a reasonable person fear and alarm” by sending a series of messages that “contained threatening, abusive and derogatory remarks regarding Muslims”.

Guilty but appealing

Ex-SNP member Melville, 37, was found guilty of sending “reckless rather than threatening” racist texts to El-Nakla.

He was convicted of sending hateful messages to Nadia – who was also a political colleague – in which he blamed “horrible murdering Islamic *” for the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.

After a three-day trial at Dundee Sheriff Court, Sheriff Scott Pattison found Melville guilty of the charge and fined him £1000.

However, the former politician is challenging his conviction at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.

Melville had denied sending a number of texts to Nadia that contained threatening, abusive and derogatory remarks regarding Muslims between November 13 and 15, 2015.

He also denied behaving in a threatening or abusive manner likely to cause fear or alarm, and that the offence was aggravated by religious prejudice.

During the case, Nadia told the court they had texted each other as news of the Paris attacks broke on November 13.

She said at that point Melville was calm but he became angry the following night and sent the texts.

One text read: “It’s not personal I just f hate your religion and I’ll do all in I’m life do defeat your filth. (sic)” Another said: “If I had a gun, I’d shoot a Muslim but I’m not brave enough.”

Asked by fiscal depute Joanne Smith how she felt about the texts, Nadia replied: “I was upset, I was confused and upset. He was very drunk and he wasn’t making any sense. The next day he called and apologised.”

She described their relationship as “friends” at the time the texts were sent. Nadia said her husband had taken her phone after discovering a text from Melville and had downloaded 14,000 pages of information, including many deleted texts.

Solicitor Douglas McConnell told the court after the verdict that Melville had since lost his job as environment convener on Dundee City Council. His political career was said to have also been destroyed and he was having to rebuild relationships with his family.


One reply on “In the decade since Humza Yousaf entered Holyrood he has established himself as the Forrest Gump of Scottish politics, surfacing at a department every time it was bedevilled by controversy, misfortune or error”

Would he be good at any job? Answer no. But I’m afraid he’s going to be our next FM because its what the Rag and the SNP leadership wants, it just won’t be what the membership wants.


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