Today’s Spectator has a leader (The Crown Office, The Spectator and a Fight for a Free Press) which explains how the Crown Office, led by a member of Sturgeon’s cabinet, is seeking to censor and redact Alex Salmond’s allegations against Sturgeon. Allegations which were published on the Holyrood Parliament’s website, in the Spectator and here on Guido. The Crown Office subsequently instructed that they be removed from the Scottish Parliament’s website, the parliamentary authorities meekly complied. Which signals the Scottish Parliament is subordinate to the Scottish executive. A constitutional state affairs that is not the case in Westminster.
We reported and explained the story to our readers here, taking care not to name any witnesses, which we thought responsible. We produced another story after the take down highlighting an example of a redaction demanded, specifically where Salmond’s original submission states that Sturgeon’s tale to the Scottish Parliament of when she first learned of complaints “is untrue and is a breach of the Ministerial Code”. The redacted version deleted this entirely. We described this as “fishy”.
The Scottish Crown Office subsequently wrote to us on March 5th demanding we remove the article. Guido decided to ignore it as it seemed unlikely to prejudice matters or reveal witnesses. The Spectator has taken the same approach to the same letter.
The Crown Office even told us not to tell our readers about its demand, which we are now also ignoring. As the Spectator’s leader puts it
“we can’t be silent about its mendacious threats to a free press. Even if we end up succumbing to its censorship, we can still put its methods on record. This is how the SNP government and its supine supporters operate. The recently passed Hate Crime Act gives them even more powers to menace the press. Scotland is being ushered towards an era of censorship, threats and state repression. The good news for those who cherish the principles of democratic debate — and those of the Scottish Enlightenment — is that this will not happen without a fight.”
Guido wouldn’t comply with an instruction from a Chinese Communist Party official to censor criticism and has no intention of complying with a Scottish National Party cabinet official’s demands. Fraser Nelson and Andrew Neil may be more vulnerable to threats from the Scottish jurisdiction. Good luck extraditing Guido’s editor to Scotland…