By a Newsnet reporter
An advert for a pro-independence website which was banned from the Glasgow underground system was removed after a member of the public complained it was “xenophobic” and “racist”, Newsnet Scotland has learned.
The advert, for online site Wings over Scotland, was removed from trains on the underground system despite having initially been given the all-clear by the advertising company Primesight.
Emails obtained by Newsnet Scotland under Freedom of Information legislation have revealed that Primesight was contacted by SPT after someone complained after seeing the ad on a subway train.
The complaint, sent at 15:46 on March 25th, claimed the Wings over Scotland website promoted “openly xenophobic, racist, transphobic and other such thoroughly nasty material.”
Describing the website as “disgusting”, the complainant demanded SPT take down the adverts.
According to the emails provided by SPT, the transport organisation then contacted Primesight asking if the advert had been vetted. A response from the ad agency told SPT that the issue had already been brought to their attention that morning and that the agency deemed the website political and would remove the ads.
However according to Primesight, Wings Over Scotland had “booked this as a charity” and was contesting the advert removal.
The decision to remove the ads was controversial and sparked claims of an infringement of free speech. Speaking to Newsnet Scotland at the time, a spokesperson claimed that SPT had not banned the advert but that the decision had been taken by the advertising company.
A request by Newsnet Scotland for any internal SPT emails relating to the Wings Over Scotland advert to be released under Freedom of Information, was refused.
SPT claimed to release such communications would “inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation”.