Re COMMENT: Facts are free: Scottish Government replies

Scottish Government logoCOMMENT and Letter to Scottish Government

Ms Lesley Evans

Head of Civil Service

St. Andrew’s Hoose *

Edinburgh

 

Dear Madam,

The selective leaking and/or preferential ‘placing’ of PUBLIC information by governments is, regrettably, all too often a device used to curry favour and/or to influence public opinion for entirely party-political advantage.

This is a disgraceful practice and is a fraud perpetrated against the electorate.

It is ethically – if not legally – unacceptable both in general principles and in terms of the regulations on ethical behaviour in public service.

The most blatant example of this came only last month when the Scottish Government preferentially presented to one publisher a statement regarding legal issues on the jurisdisction for prospective appeals by Tier-1 oil companies against being compelled to collaborate (with each other) on the order of the UK regulator in order to maximise economic recovery of North Sea oil and gas.

Not only did this place every member of the public / the electorate at a disadvantage (selective leaking) it also put the rest of the press at the same disadvantage, with commercial knobs-on.

And it also left Holyrood MPs of all parties (including the SNP Govt’s own SNP MSPs) ignorant for six hours.

And even more tawdry, this (public) information was provided to a traditionally anti-trade union company – whose best known legal expert is Oor Wullie – which then DEMANDED PAYMENT from the public so voters could read PUBLIC INFORMATION (or information that would become public six hours later)

Scottish Energy News is the only totally independent, non-partisan and made, owned and built in Scotland media which supports both the freedom of the press and fair competition. Our only bias is in favour of promoting Scottish energy – at home and abroad.

Unlike so many other local, trade and/or parochial publications, our NEWS IS FREE of charge and we do not demand that people PAY TO READ PUBLIC INFORMATION by hiding behind a pay-wall.

oor wullie

Ps.

A word of advice; The ‘best’ way for the Scottish Government to ‘leak’ public information to Oor Wullie’s Voice would be for the press office of the Scottish National Party (nb NOT Scottish Government) to pop it into Oor Wullie’s very-leaky in-bucket, thus creating  (im)plausible deniability – instead of probative culpability.

  • Hoose is the Scottish language word for ‘house’ and is non-pejorative. The Scots language is nominally  supported by the Scottish Government (although it publishes only in Gaelic and English)  (Ditto for Scottish Parliament)  Dictionar o’ the Scots Leid  / Dictionary of the Scots Language – http://goo.gl/7xo5Bk 

Letters to Editor

REPLY SUBSEQUENTLY RECEIVED FROM SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT 

4 April 2016

Dear Scottish Energy News,

As Deputy Head of News, I am responding on behalf of the Scottish Government regarding your complaint.

I understand you are concerned at the fact Press and Journal were given an exclusive story by the Scottish Government Communications Department.

This – as I am sure you know – is common practice within the media (1) . On occasion, the Scottish Government will choose to work with one outlet to place a story.

This was the case here and as soon as the material was published by Press and Journal, it was also made available online and was picked up by other media outlets. (2) 

We chose to work with Press and Journal on this occasion because of its readership and reach and the subject matter involved. This is always the case when considering where best to place an exclusive and we will continue to consider all of the Scottish, UK and international media when making such decisions. (3)

However, I would stress that the majority of our output is made available widely and I know you are on our list to receive news releases. I hope this clarifies our position.

Aileen Easton

First Minister’s Official Spokesperson/ Deputy Head of News

St Andrews House

Edinburgh

Tel: 0131 244 5033; 07825 905991

 

NOTES by Scottish Energy News

(1) The Scottish Government is NOT ‘media’

(2) This claim is factually untrue as far as Scottish Energy News was concerned

(3) This appears to suggest that the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is happy to use tricks and spin-doctor devices to keep both her own SNP MSPs ignorant of Scottish Government actions – as well as Opposition MSPs from all other parties.

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