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January 20, 2017updated 24 Jan 2017 9:36am

STV political editor Stephen Daisley resigns in wake of Scottish MPs’ complaints to media company

By Freddy Mayhew

A political editor who was accused by Scottish National Party MPs of sharing his own biased views and retweeting “misogynistic” messages has resigned from his post.

Digital politics and comment editor Stephen Daisley will leave his job with STV later this month after five years with the Scottish digital media brand.

A friend of Daisley’s told the Sunday Herald the journalist had felt “unsupported” by management after his comment pieces were pulled following complaints allegedly made to his employers.

Daisley had written in comment pieces that he was a “friend” of Labour and criticised the SNP for “mining grievance from even the most innocuous act or statement”, according to the Herald.

SNP MPs Pete Wishart, chair of the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee, and culture spokesman John Nicolson have called out Daisley on Twitter for sharing his personal views.

Daisley tweeted in May last year: “In England, people tweet journalists demanding they hold government to account. In Scotland, people tweet journalists demanding they don’t.”

This prompted Wishar to reply: “Hi @STVnews is this your view or just the view of the ‘digital’ arm of the ‘STV family’?”.

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Wishar’s comment caught the attention of author JK Rowling, who said: “Is trying to intimidate journalists you dislike @theSNP policy or just a vendetta of your own?”.

In a series of tweets, Nicolson also called Daisley’s ability and neutrality into question after he appeared to recommend a Twitter account called Brian Spanner which he said was known for posting misogynist abuse of female politicians.

Nicolson, a former BBC journalist, said: “[Daisley] is meant to be a neutral journalist – not an activist”.

Political parties accused the SNP of “gagging” Daisley when it emerged he would no longer be writing comment pieces, while STV was criticised for “buckling to Nationalist pressure”, the Herald has reported.

A spokeswoman for STV said: “We can confirm that Stephen has resigned.” Daisley declined Press Gazette’s request for comment.

UPDATE 23/01/17

Speaking to Press Gazette, Nicolson said: “Stephen Daisley was the digital comment editor at STV. I think that people who are working for a public service broadcaster should remain objective. I don’t have a clue what [BBC Scotland editor] Sarah Smith thinks about anything. That’s as it should be.

“I don’t think we should know if Sarah Smith or [BBC political editor] Laura Kuenssberg like Nicola Sturgeon or Theresa May because down that road leads Fox News.

“My criticism of him wasn’t the politics that he held but the fact that he expressed political opinions at all.”

He added: “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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