Daily Record editor defends ‘Crackpot Website’ claim

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The editor of the Daily Record has defended an editorial in the newspaper that attacked Newsnet Scotland, describing the site as “crackpot” and “paranoid”.
 
Allan Rennie insisted the language was an acceptable part of what he termed “robust” debate and suggested the term “crackpot” was an appropriate way to describe those opposing the Union.

Asked by Newsnet Scotland to defend his paper’s use of the term, Mr Rennie said: “I think we’re on two sides of the political fence, obviously you’re very much pro-independence and we’re very much, and always have been, a pro-United Kingdom newspaper and that’s where we stand.

“Robust language has been used by both sides in this debate and certainly it is our right to use that language.”

Asked by Newsnet Scotland’s editor Lynda Williamson how this squared with the Daily Record’s claim in the same editorial that the newspaper “desperately” wanted “a fair and open debate on independence.” Mr Rennie replied:

“It is fair and decent, it’s part of the Scottish psyche”

He added: “That language isn’t outside of the ordinary political debate and certainly the material that’s on both camps has been far more extreme than that.”

Mr Rennie said his paper would be happy to engage on any challenges to factual accuracy contained in Record articles, but insisted the paper had simply used “robust language” to defend something they had been “defending for the last 100 years”.

In the leader published on Friday, the Daily Record described Newsnet Scotland as a “Crackpot Website” that “regularly engages in paranoid conspiracies and personal attacks.” 

The leader ended by saying “Scotland deserves better”.

Newsnet Scotland contacted Trinity Mirror to protest at what we felt was an unprovoked attack on our site using language that contained very clear mental health implications.  We asked for a retraction, an apology and a right of reply.

The newspaper editorial followed the highlighting by the First Minister of a communication from an EC official confirming there was no legal barrier to Scotland negotiating a continuation of its EU membership whilst remaining part of the organisation.  Alex Salmond was responding to taunts from Unionist parties after Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy claimed a Yes vote would leave Scotland outside of the European Union.

In an email from a member of the public, EC official Mario-Paulo Tenreiro had been asked: “Does the President agree with me that, given Scotland is already in the EU and therefore meets criteria for membership, an independent Scotland would be able to negotiate its terms of membership of the European Union within the European Union?”

In a reply, Mr Tenreiro said that whilst a change of treaties would be required – needing the approval of other members – that: “…as you say, it would of course be legally possible to re-negotiate the situation of UK and Scotland within the EU.”

Newsnet Scotland published the contents of the letter in an exclusive article on October 9th this year.

According to the Daily Record, a copy of the communication had been “downloaded from a crackpot website” by the Scottish Government.  The claim was repeated by several media outlets, including the BBC whose reporters said the communication had been “lifted from the internet”.

However, on Saturday Newsnet Scotland revealed that the document had not in fact been downloaded but had been sent to the Scottish Government as an email attachment on the day our exclusive article was published.  The BBC had also received a copy of Mario-Paulo Tenreiro’s communication a day earlier.

To date neither the BBC nor any other Scottish newspaper has corrected their false claim that the communication was “lifted from the internet” by the Scottish Government.

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