A Labour MP at the centre of a row over accusations his constituency office was “vandalised” by independence supporters, has been forced to admit that the ‘vandalism’ was in fact Yes stickers.
Ian Murray, who is the MP for Edinburgh South, created a stir on Tuesday when he tweeted that Yes activists had vandalised his official office. The Labour MP complained of having been subjected to personal abuse, which he said was getting “out of control”.
However pictures taken by locals within hours of the Labour MP making the accusations, found no evidence of vandalism save for some graffiti on the office doors which was linked to youths from a local gang.
Challenged by users of the social media site to provide evidence of his claims of vandalism by Yes activists, Murray initially refused to respond.
Yesterday in a series of questions posed by online site Wings Over Scotland, which originally broke the story, the Labour MP refused to address several key elements surrounding his claims.
According to the site’s editor, Stuart Campbell, the Labour MP declined to explain why no pictures had been taken of the alleged vandalism.
Murray also refused to confirm if the vandalism had been caught by two security cameras which are located on the premises.
According to the Wings Over Scotland editor, Murray himself is alleged to have said: “Is it vandalism? Well, probably not”, something he apparently later denied having said.
Responding on his own blog the Labour MP has defended his original claims that the stickers were an act of vandalism perpetrated by Yes activists.
Attacking what he called the “vitriol and bile” he had been subjected to on twitter, Murray wrote: “The vandalism was not on the front doors as stated by the blog post. The doors to my constituency office have been like that since approximately summer 2010, mainly because I purchased a special paint due to the colour matching, not realising that it was ineffective for the job and requires to be sanded down.”
The Labour MP explained that the reason there was no stickers visible when locals arrived to check his claims of vandalism, was that they had been cleared by staff.
Describing what he termed “the poisonous nature of the referendum” Murray insisted he had to protect his staff from “such abuse”. The Labour MP also confirmed that he had “informally” reported the sticker episode to the police which he said had resulted in his office having “a crime prevention survey done”.
He added: “It was not right that they had to clean these stickers off the windows and doors yesterday and it is not right that they have to work in such an environment. The Chief Inspector agreed and has arranged for my office to have a crime prevention survey done to best protect my staff.”
Murray’s high profile complaints over Yes stickers are in contrast to the silence from Nicola Sturgeon whose office was surrounded by what appeared to be pro-Union Ulster loyalists in 2013, some of whom had hidden their faces. The gathering witnessed placards being placed on the MSP’s constituency office and Union flags draped over the office facade.
The episode, which was filmed on behalf of Newsnet Scotland at the time, was not reported by news media or condemned by Unionist politicians.
[Newsnet correction. An earlier draft of this article suggested that the image that appears at the top of this article was an actual picture of the constituency office showing the Yes sticker in situ. This now appears not to be the case. The image is a mock-up which used the solitary sticker published on Mr Murray’s blog. We understand the single sticker image was originally posted as a stand alone image by the Labour MP. As yet there is no confirmation that this sticker image was taken prior to the office window being cleared up.]