First Minister Backs Down

Published on Saturday 31st January, 2009 by Celtic Trust

First Minister withdraws charge of bigotry against Celtic Trust Chair

During the furore surrounding the radio interview given by Celtic Trust Chair, Jeanette Findlay, in November 2007, one of the most damaging comments reported in the press was a statement purporting to come from the office of the First Minister, written in extremely intemperate terms, which clearly inferred bigotry on the part of our Chair. Jeanette wrote to the First Minister in January 2008 asking for a public withdrawal of the statement and an apology. During the course of 2008 a number of appointments were made and then postponed by the First Minister’s office, but we are pleased to report that the meeting took place on Tuesday 20 January 2009. The meeting was a cordial and constructive one during which Alex Salmond informed Jeanette that the statement had not come from his office but from another Government department; that the press officer in question had not heard the interview and was responding to a ‘media representation’ of her comments (the Trust is already aware that it was the Daily Record) and that the Press Officer had not used the phrase ‘Scotland has had enough of bigotry’. Following a discussion of the issues in general, and the incident in particular, Mr Salmond offered to write a letter stating his position and his view of Jeanette’s position. That letter has now been received and we are happy to report that the First Minister has, while acknowledging that there are differences on this matter between himself and the Trust Chair, stated that her position is not ‘bigoted’ and ‘will not be described as such by Scottish Government spokespeople’. He went on to apologise for the contribution that this statement made to the ‘media furore’ surrounding the original interview. This statement, which follows a number of similar withdrawals and apologies from other organisations and individuals, brings to a close a very sorry episode in the conduct of public debate on this issue in Scotland. We are happy to now draw a line under the whole matter.


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