A Labour MP who’s the victim of a fake picture campaign believes the coronavirus pandemic has provoked levels of online abuse not seen since the 2014 independence referendum.

Ian Murray spoke out after a fake picture of him standing in front of a Loyalist flag was shared hundreds of times on Facebook last weekend.

The Edinburgh South MP told the Record: “This happens regularly. People on Facebook are putting out false stories and false pictures to try to cause a bit of hassle.

Ian Murray spoke out after a fake picture of him standing in front of a Loyalist flag was shared hundreds

“I’ve received hundreds of emails and Facebook messages in the last week for daring to criticise or question the Scottish Government. It’s out of control.”

Murray was the only Scottish Labour MP to hold his seat at last year’s general election and was a member of Better Together at the 2014 independence referendum.

He said the levels of abuse he suffered then have returned. “If the baseline of the referendum was 100, I think after it dropped considerably,” he said. “Then with Brexit, the drive for an IndyRef2 and me being the only Labour MP left in Scotland, it’s just ramped up to 2014 levels. We are crossing that baseline already.”

The Edinburgh South MP says online abuse has returned

Murray added: “What I’m trying to do is ask legitimate questions. If people think everything is going wonderfully in Scotland, why do we have one of the highest death rates in the world, why was our care home death rate 50 per cent higher than in England and why are we testing only 3000 to 4000 a day?”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Figures contrasting Scottish and UK testing rates are not directly comparable.

“Every life lost to the virus is a tragedy, including those in our care homes, where the mortality rate is in line with that in many other countries. We are doing everything possible to protect lives.”