ITV News’s political editor has written about the “abuse and even intimidation” he and other journalists have experienced while covering the Scottish independence referendum.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Tom Bradby (pictured, Reuters) said he wasn’t suggesting that his experiences in Scotland bear “comparison with really bad places” – but did admit he is not “enjoying” himself.
- November 25, 2021
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“[P]retty much all reporters I chatted to yesterday agreed that the level of abuse and even intimidation being meted out by some in the ‘Yes’ campaign was making this referendum a rather unpleasant experience,” he wrote.
"And while I am sure both sides have been guilty, the truth – uncomfortable as it is to say it – is that most of the heckling and abuse does seem to be coming from the Nationalists.
“I have been with ITN for 25 years and have covered events all over the world in that time.
“I’m not going to suggest that this bears comparison with really bad places, but it is certainly highly unusual in the democratic world.
“For example, my first major job as a correspondent was in Ireland in the early nineties and, despite the fact that there was a bitter war going on all round me that took many lives, I experienced virtually no personal hostility at all from anyone.
“They didn’t lob accusations of bias around every time you asked a question either.”
Bradby advised ‘Yes’ campaigners to “think about the face they are showing the world” by accusing journalists of bias at a time of high “emotion”.
On Sunday, protestors gathered outside the BBC’s Glasgow headquarters accusing the corporation of bias. Political editor Nick Robinson, in particular, was targeted.
In the blog, Bradby described banners calling for Robinson to be sacked as “frankly rather sinister”.
This week, the National Union of Journalists called for campaigners to allow journalists to cover the independence debate without fear of intimidation.
Paul Holleran, Scottish organiser for the National Union of Journalists, said that while people had the right to protest, journalists in Edinburgh and Aberdeen had been "abused over the weekend when simply turning up to report on events organised by both sides" of the referendum campaign.
Brian Docherty, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, which represents 98 per cent of the country’s officers, today accused sections of the media of “exaggerated rhetoric” in referendum coverage.
He said: “At this time it is more important than ever that individuals be they politicians, journalists or whoever should carefully consider their words, maintain level heads and act with respect.
“Respect is not demonstrated by suggesting a minority of mindless idiots are representative of anything. One of the many joys of this campaign has been how it has awakened political awareness across almost every single section of society. The success enjoyed by the many should not be sullied by the actions of the few.
“Police officers must be kept free from the distractions of rhetoric better suited to the playground that the political stump. If crime has been committed it will be investigated and dealt with appropriately but quite simply police officers have better things to do than officiate in spats on social media and respond to baseless speculation of the potential for disorder on and following polling day”