A high-profile Unionist blogger has been forced to publish an embarrassing apology after attributing fake tweets to the editor of pro-independence site Wings Over Scotland.
Kevin Hague, an amateur data analyst who has appeared on the BBC as an ‘expert pundit’ claimed Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell had posted tweets endorsing an annual report known as GERS. GERS stands for Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland and purports to show the financial status of Scotland as part of the Union.
The tweets, which appeared to have been posted in March 2013, contained the Wings Over Scotland logo. One said: “I’m getting annoyed now. How can these idiots argue with GERS? Give me one good reason why GERS isn’t reliable?”
Another said: “Impossible. Would need to dispute all Gov figures in White Paper. GERS is watertight. But hey, too wee, too poor.”
Hague posted an image of the tweets together with a message; “*whistles nonchalantly*
However the attack backfired after it emerged the so-called tweets were in fact fakes. According to Stuart Campbell, who runs the genuine Wings Over Scotland account, the tweets were fake images created and posted by a parody account.
The blunder prompted a rambling series of tweets from Hague in which he first suggested the parody account had been set up as “entrapment” before eventually offering an apology to Campbell.
The episode follows a spat between the two over the accuracy of figures contained in the GERS report and whether the figures it contains are reliable. Hague claims the figures contained in GERS prove Scotland would be in a worse state financially if the country was independent. However according to Campbell the figures are mere estimates and thus concrete conclusions cannot be drawn.
Campbell’s stance has been endorsed by respected academic Professor Richard Murphy who has been involved in his own online exchange with Hague. In a tweet, the academic challenged Hague’s assertions, saying: “The GERS report for 2016 includes the word estimated 249 times. You really think that suggests it’s reliable?”
The exchange between Hague and the academic led to an apparent invite from BBC Scotland presenter John Beattie for Hague to debate with Professor Murphy on the accuracy of GERS. Hague has appeared as a guest on several BBC programmes offering his pro-Union views. The invite was accepted by Professor Murphy but apparently ignored by Hague.
However there appears to be confusion over whether Professor Murphy has indeed been officially invited onto BBC Scotland to present his own views on GERS. Following Beattie’s ‘invite’, the academic posted the following message: “Can I be clear that the BBC Scotland have my number and no one’s called me to debate GERS. There’s been a lot of speculation, but no reality.”Views: 19200