The Scotsman has paid out more than £6,000 in damages to Scottish news website Wings Over Scotland owner the Rev. Stuart Campbell in a settlement over an article published earlier this year.
The complaint referred to an article published on 13 June by Euan McColm and Tom Peterkin, which claimed the Rev. Stuart Campbell, founder of the website, had used the service to encourage “nationalist campaigners” to photograph opponents in a bid to publicly identify them.
Campbell strenuously denied the allegation, and in a response published on the day he quoted a previous Wings article which had stated that any images taken by campaigners would have faces blurred out, and added: “Now let’s be absolutely crystal-clear about this, as if it needed saying: we DON’T want anyone harassed.” [sic]
Campbell also denied a claim in the Scotsman article that he had once blamed the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster for the crush that killed them, and said he had in fact said that other Liverpool fans there on the day “were partly culpable for the deaths of the 96”, not the victims themselves.
The article was subsequently removed from the Scotsman website the same day, and a correction published. However, Campbell pursued the case further and a financial compensation settlement was reached out of court.
Campbell told The Drum: “I’m glad that the Scotsman pulled the online article and paid compensation for what were utterly disgraceful slurs.
“The ‘correction’ they published was a pathetic, weasel-worded, snivelling thing, but expecting decency from the Scottish press these days is a fantasy – basic compliance with the law is the best you dare hope for, and you don’t even always get that.”
Campbell’s Wings Over Scotland has grown a substantial readership over the course of the independence referendum campaign, and the site has been funded by crowdsourcing. Campbell has raised more than £200,000 from readers to commission polls and create print products, such as the ‘Wee Blue Book’.
You can hear more about Wings in The Drum’s documentary on the Scottish media below.
The Drum was awaiting a response from the Scotsman at time of publication.