UK government apologises after e-petition says rioters should be sent to Scotland

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by a Newsnet reporter

The UK government has been forced to apologise after an e-petition calling for English rioters to be sent to Scotland as ‘punishment’ was published on an official website.
 
The petition, which closed yesterday, urged the Ministry of Justice to send anyone convicted of rioting to the Outer Hebrides for five years away from the “comforts of English living”.

The petition described the scenic islands as having no “running water, electricity, decent food” and of lacking “culture”.  It said locals “look after sheep part-time” and would earn extra money “looking after rioters and looters as well”.

The petition has outraged Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP Angus Brendan MacNeil who said he would be demanding the Ministry of Justice explain why it was allowed.

Commenting, Mr MacNeil said:

“I think the author of the petition would himself benefit from a visit to the Outer Hebrides so he can see what he is missing.  Far from punishing rioters and looters, as seems to be his objective, a trip to the Islands would be a great treat.

“It’s not rioters we have in the Outer Hebrides, but tourists in their thousands every year enjoying the beautiful scenery and great atmosphere on the islands.  I must say I am surprised that the UK Government would allow such a petition to be published on their website.”

Acording to the UK government website an e-petition can be rejected if it contains libellous, false or, defamatory statements or, if it contains offensive, joke or nonsense content.  Mr MacNeil claimed that the e-petition surely fell into this category which, he said, raised questions as to how it was allowed to be published.

He added:

“I will be asking the department responsible, The Ministry of Justice, to explain why they felt this petition should be allowed.”

A spokeperson from the Ministry of Justice apologised and claimed the e-petition’s publication was an “oversight”.

First Minister Alex Salmond was recently attacked by Scottish opposition politicians, who labelled him “parochial” and accused him of “gloating”, after he pointed out that the riots had not in fact happened in Scotland.  Mr Salmond had called for accuracy in reporting and insisted that any description of them as ‘UK’ riots threatened Scottish tourism.

The petition:

Send rioters to the Outer Hebrides for 5 years
Responsible department: Ministry of Justice

All rioters and looters from the recent troubles in English cities should be banished to the Outer Hebrides for 5 years. This would be much, much, cheaper than keeping them in expensive prisons, saving the taxpayer money. Five years of being forced to live in the Outer Hebrides with none of the comforts of English city living e.g. running water, electricity, decent food, culture and shopping, will put them on the straight and narrow, and frighten them not to riot or loot again. Many local people there look after sheep part-time, so they can earn a small amount of extra money looking after rioters and looters as well.