An SNP MP who was accused of having applied pressure on broadcaster STV to have a journalist ‘gagged’ has slammed the newspaper which published the claim.
MP John Nicolson attacked the Herald newspaper after a news article claimed the MP had teamed up with a nationalist colleague in order to silence a controversial STV editor. According to The Herald, Nicolson along with MP Pete Wishart were being held responsible for the ‘gagging’ of journalist Stephen Daisley.
The newspaper reported:
“STV has been accused of gagging one of its journalists after “bullying” by the SNP.
The broadcaster was yesterday criticised for caving into political pressure, while the party was accused of intimidating the media.”
The article claimed that Daisley had been stopped from writing articles on the STV website after being criticised by the SNP duo on social media.
The article added:
“The decision followed mounting pressure from the SNP over the broadcaster’s digital content and Mr Daisley in particular, with complaints first raised at an event hosted by STV executives at Westminster in the spring.
SNP culture spokesman John Nicolson and chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee Pete Wishart, who met STV, also questioned Mr Daisley’s output via social media.”
However writing in The Herald’s sister paper The National, Nicolson ridiculed the accusation calling the original article ‘clickbait’.
He said: “No Herald journalist phoned me to ask me for comment – even though I’m pretty easy to find. Had they done so, I’d have been happy to debunk said claims.”
The MP added: “But I’m left wondering about The Herald. Its story was wafer thin. It attributed a ludicrous amount of influence to me. Its claims have been debunked by all the players cited, including STV itself. And a key ingredient of the story was omitted – the Spanner tweets – as they were too offensive to publish.”
The reference to ‘Brian Spanner’ relates to a notorious twitter account that posts racist and disgusting anti-women messages online. The account was recently endorsed by Daisley.
The Herald article prompted many pro-Union voices to accuse the SNP of seeking to intimidate journalists. Conservative politician Jackson Carlaw accused STV of “buckling to nationalist pressure”.
Carlaw added: “Gagging journalists is totally unacceptable in Scotland. However, it seems SNP high command feels it can bully broadcasters and that even STV will be forced to oblige.”
The Conservative MSP’s comments were echoed by Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who said STV was wrong to “cave in to SNP complaints.”
However claims that Daisley had been ‘gagged’ began to unravel when STV confirmed that writer would continue to contribute to its digital output.
Responding to the claims, an STV spokesman said: “STV continues to develop and invest in political coverage, particularly since the launch of our enhanced digital news service earlier this year. Our output and content will continue to evolve and Stephen Daisley, digital politics and comments editor, is a key contributor to this as we enter the new parliamentary sessions.”