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February 6, 2017updated 07 Feb 2017 1:43pm

SNP slammed by former STV journalist: ‘I learned the hard way that journalism and nationalism do not mix’

By Dominic Ponsford

Former STV political editor Stephen Daisley has written a piece for the Daily Mail claiming he was removed from his role after complaints from two SNP MPs.

Comparing the behaviour of the Scottish Nationalist Party to Donald Trump, he said: “I learned the hard way that journalism and nationalism do not mix.”

Daisley stepped down from his role as comment editor for STV last month.

He had previously written comment for the STV website which, unlike its broadcast output, is not regulated by Ofcom so does not have the same obligation to be impartial.

Daisley believes he was “denounced” by SNPs Pete Wishart and John Nicolson at a briefing for Westminster MPs held by STV chief executive Rob Woodward in spring last year.

He notes that Nicolson sits on the Westminster media committee and claims that following the briefing: “I was summoned to a meeting with STV’s head of digital and head of news and told my role was being changed.

“I could edit STV’s politics page or I could write but I could no longer do both. As the head of news put it: ‘We can’t afford to have a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee complaining about us.'”

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He said that when reports emerged that he had been effectively gagged the National Union of Journalists in Scotland dismissed them, without consulting him.

Speaking out in general about the SNP’s dealings with the press, he noted that the Mail, Express and Telegraph were banned from Alex Salmond’s resignation press conference as First Minister following his Scottish referendum defeat.

He said: “In the New Scotland, even journalists’ union the NUJ can’t be relied on to stand up for a free press. When reporters came under attack from nationalists during the referendum, the NUJ’s Scottish organiser declared that ‘serious abuse and threats to Scots journalists is mainly from a small group of BT [Better Together] supporters’.”

Talking about STV’s relationship with the SNP, he said: “STV is drunk on access and stumbles over the line so many times it no longer remembers that the line exists.

“Given the intimidation of industry leaders during the independence referendum — the phone calls and raised voices and thinly-veiled threats — it’s not surprising that businesses are keen to keep ministers on side.”

Daisley said: “The most unnerving aspect of my experience was that I’m not an investigative journalist. I wasn’t uncovering secret reports or exposing corruption. I’m a commentator.”

But rather than criticise him, he feels that the Scottish nationalists had him removed.

He said: “Having co-opted so much of the third sector, academia, and some of the best and worst of Scottish journalism, they want it all and they want it waving flags. And when you can’t do that, when you have to point out their mistakes or remind them that nationalism is not sanctified by some cant about social justice, you must be destroyed, anathematised, made an example of. ”

Daisley is to write a weekly column for the Scottish Daily Mail.

STV declined to comment.

Nicolson told Press Gazette last month that he objected to the notion of STV publishing comment, rather than the nature of that comment.

He said: “Claims I had a series of meetings with STV at my request to complain about Stephen Daisley is entirely untrue. Way back last Spring I was invited to chair, by STV, an all party House of Commons and House of Lords breakfast. It was STV’s invitation not mine. A couple of people – not me – raised the issue of Stephen Daisley and his inappropriate tweets. I was chairing the meeting. They also raised football and boundary restrictions and a whole host of other issues.

“It’s rubbish to blame a chairman for issues raised by other parties at a meeting that the chairman was chairing. It’s certainly true that I agreed and think that Stephen Daisley’s behaviour crossed a line but no meeting was requested by me with STV to talk about Daisley and that much repeated claim is simply false.

“I have no power over STV as a politician at Westminster. Nor would I want any power over them. I’m a champion of a free press and I have spent a great deal of time trying to guarantee the BBC’s independent through the Royal Charter reforms. I also campaigned to save Channel 4 from privatisation.”

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