The Herald newspaper has been forced to issue an apology to First Minister Nicola Stugeon after it published false claims over a planning application intervention.
On Friday the newspaper’s front page contained the headline ‘Fury after Sturgeon pulls rank on Chinese wind farm‘. Beneath the headline, a sub-heading read: ‘FM overrules council planners a day before Beijing meeting with financers‘.
The headline was based on what appears to be a media smear campaign aimed against the First Minister who has just returned from a trade mission to China. However The Herald has now been forced to admit the claims contained in both the headline and the sub-heading are false.
In a statement published in Saturday’s edition, the newspaper has been forced to apologise to the SNP leader. The statement read:
“In yesterday’s Herald we carried a headline ‘Fury after Sturgeon pulls rank on Chinese wind farm’ and a subheading ”FM overrules council planners a day before Beijing meeting with financers’. In both instances the wording was innaccurate. It was correct that the Scottish Government controversially ‘called in’ plans for an eletricity substation in East Lothian but not that Nicola Sturgeon personally intervened. This was accurately reflected in the body of the story and The Herald’s online coverage. We are happy to set the record straight and apologise to Ms Sturgeon.”
In a statement issued via twitter, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Not the most important thing happening today but @heraldscotland contains apology to me for yesterday’s false headline – just 3 months after Daily Mail had to do same. Apologies welcome – but better still if they didn’t engage in baseless smears in first place.”
The attacks against the First Minister, including the false Herald headlline, were aired on BBC Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday morning. Presenters Gary Robertson and Hayley Millar read out headlines from a variety of newspapers, including The Herald.
The Herald wasn’t the only media outlet to falsely claim the First Minister had personally called in the planning application. BBC Scotland published the same claim in its online newspaper promotion section.
In an introduction to the section, which carried an image of The Herald front page as well as similar from The Daily Express, the BBC stated: ‘A row over Chinese investors makes Scotland’s front pages as the first minister calls in a planning decision.’
The smear attack also featured on BBC Scotland’s flagship TV news programme Reporting Scotland.
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