By a Newsnet reporter
A respected Scottish musician has expressed her dismay after a newspaper, which depicted the St Andrews flag with a swastika superimposed over the cross, was cleared of breaching the Editor’s Code of Practice.
Singer/Songwriter Eddi Reader had complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) after the Scotland on Sunday newspaper published an image which showed the Scottish flag which depicted the traditional cross of St Andrew replaced with a Nazi Swastika.

Scotland on Sunday had published an article by Gavin Bowd, the author of Fascist Scotland.  The newspaper’s coverage had included a picture of a Swastika superimposed over the Saltire and the headline 'Klan Alba'.

The image sparked outrage across Scotland and led to the newspaper removing it from its Facebook page.  However, the PCC has now ruled that despite defacing Scotland’s national flag with the Nazi symbol, the newspaper did not breach any code.

The PCC had received complaints from people who believed the image was discriminatory and offensive towards Scottish people.  A number of complainants were also concerned that the newspaper had linked the Scottish National Party to the racist organisation the Ku Klux Klan.

However the complaints were dismissed by the PCC, which in its response claimed that both the image and the phrase ‘Klan Alba’ accurately reflected the contents of the article by Gavin Bowd.

The PCC wrote:

"The terms of Clause 1 (Accuracy) state that ‘the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures’.  The body of the article had clearly set out the author’s arguments regarding the historical presence of fascism in Scotland and the country’s receptiveness to radical nationalism.

"The article had not suggested that that all Scottish people, or people who support Scottish Independence, endorsed or held views similar to those of the Nazis.  The image had been used to illustrate the article in a provocative manner.  Viewed in the context of the coverage as a whole, the Commission took the view that the use of the picture and the headline had not been significantly misleading."

Responding to claims that the image and term were offensive, the PCC added:

"The Commission acknowledged that complainants found the picture and the headline extremely offensive and distasteful; however, it made clear that the terms of the Editors’ Code of Practice do not address issues of taste and offence."

The commission also dismissed claims that the contents of Mr Bowd’s article misrepresented Scottish Nationalism by conflating it to extremist groups like the BNP and several other Fascist organisations, saying the article represented the author’s opinion and was clearly not fact.

The Commission said: "The author had been entitled to express his views under the terms of Clause 1 (iii) which says that journalists are entitled to express their personal views and comments - however robust or controversial they might be - provided that they are clearly distinguished from fact.  The author had written the article based on his research and he had clearly drawn his own conclusions about fascism in Scotland and the country’s receptiveness to radical nationalism."

It added: "Readers would have been aware that the article had represented only one opinion on the subject.  The Commission took the view that the article had not failed to distinguish comment from fact."

The PCC also rejected complaints that the article was discriminatory against Scottish people saying the code "does not cover references or generalised remarks about groups or categories of people."

A clearly unhappy Eddi Reader has now responded to the judgement.  In a written response, the musician says:

"I have issue with your judgement on complainants vs The Scotland On Sunday Newspaper.  My issue is your sentence:

'The article had not suggested that that all Scottish people, or people who support Scottish Independence, endorsed or held views similar to those of the Nazis.  The image had been used to illustrate the article in a provocative manner.'

"The St Andrews Saltire is the flag that represents the ENTIRE nation of Scotland.  I am certain you are aware of this fact.  The choice of using that flag is now documented forever.  It is and always will be deeply offensive to all Scots.  Not only those who fought against fascism.

"The singer/songwriter added: "I appeal to your better judgement.  Are you suggesting that a swastika superimposed on the St George cross would not be deeply offensive to all English persons?

I await your response."

The PCC has come in for heavy criticism following its role in the recent phone hacking scandal after its former chair Baroness Buscombe said the body lacked the power to deal with the issue.  It is now in a transitional phase until a new regulator can be set up.

Lord Hunt, chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, pledged that the replacement body will be "a robust, independent regulator with teeth".

At Westminster, Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have agreed that an independent regulator should be set up by royal charter with powers to impose million pound fines on UK publishers and demand upfront apologies from them.  However many leading newspapers are reported to have refused to sign up to such a set up.


# Breeks 2013-05-19 09:16
Go ahead. Spit on Scotland's flag with the full endorsement of the PCC, Gavin Bowd and the dumbstruck St Andrews University which won't rise to defend it's namesake, the St Andrews saltire from cheap desecration by one of it's academic publicity hounds.

One wonders what stone Mr Boyd will be scurrying underneath today if he can't get police protection on a Sunday to console him from more of his Walter Mitty death threats.

Well done Eddi Reader, and thank you.
# clootie 2013-05-19 09:33
That photograph and title are offensive and a misrepresentati on of the culture in Scotland.

It has been judged in the public arena as such.

Should the Editor or the press complaints disagree it only proves that they have an agenda to fulfill which is unrelated to news coverage.
# xyz 2013-05-19 09:38
It will interesting to see how the press and the media evolve in an independent Scotland.

There will be no further reason for their relentless anti-Scotland propaganda.

There'll be a lot of media people crawling back under rocks, living in shame.
# Robabody 2013-05-19 09:42
Nice that Eddi Reader took them on but absolutely no surprise at the outcome.
# Dundonian West 2013-05-19 10:23
Sunday Times poll.Scots may go independent if membership of EU threatened, e.g.Farage UKIP.
Full article is behind the S.T. Paywall.
# D_A_N 2013-05-19 10:51
Any chance of giving us a quick rundown of the results?
# Nautilus 2013-05-19 11:00
"The Commission acknowledged........that it had made clear that the terms of the Editor Code of Practice do not address issues of taste and offence".

If they do not acknowledge issues of taste and offence, are they in danger of fomenting public disorder?

How about an article on the Highland Clearances with a picture of a butcher with meat cleaver and blood-stained Union flag round his waist? Allow that and see what the reaction is.
# alanski 2013-05-19 12:07
Not surprised by this reaction from the reactionaries. The PCC are a corrupt organisation, just another part of the festering establishment down south. They are a disgrace.
# ayemachrihanish 2013-05-19 12:51
Dear Eddie - is there now an opportunity to "crowd fund" and seek redress from a higher (EU perhaps) authority?  

Even better - In collaberation with Newsnet Scotland?? 

Even the publicity of a campaign would be a positive and useful action.

The UK PCC are already in the eyes of many EU member states - not fit for purpose. So which EU or UK Law is being undermined by the image and associated narritive? Any suggestions ??
# Willow 2013-05-19 14:17
Just been talking to my neighbours who are English about this, while they have their massive red, white & blue union flag fridge freezer & I have my saltire raised in my garden they were as angry as I am with this.

OT a bit.

Picked up this link from a poster on popular indy blog.

You can access newspaper articles on line without directing traffic to their sites.

I managed to read the Sunday Post (Newscastle edition) article on Dennis Healey & how Labour Government betrayed the public on the wealth & value of North sea oil in the 70s.

Click search at the top then use the search bar at the side to pick the newspapers.
If a register page pops up just clear cookies.
# andymac96 2013-05-19 14:18
Thanks Eddie appreciate your efforts, you are a star, PCC you make me sick to my stomach , the time is coming and there will be no place for you here .
# Kinghob 2013-05-19 18:00
I received an apology from the scotsman for this picture and the fact that I had been offended by this portrayal of the Saltire and my comments that the artricle with Klan Alba was misleading and was meant to mislead.

I await for my reply to the complaint I made to the PCC.

It was NOT a complaint about some 'editor's code of practice' but that the article was there to 'mislead and falsely represent' this image and the association to the public, which is against the PCC rules and it sounds like the PCC has acknowledged this with their quote that the article itself was 'not based on fact' but was 'opinion'.......this was NOT made clear, and it was the newspaper, NOT the 'author' who used the offending nazi symbol and the 'klan alba' title, so this was not the author's opinion.

I think we should appeal as this judgement is clumsy and very typical of the PCC which is not that good at doing the job they are paid to do.
# scottishwatersnotforsale 2013-05-19 18:03
I also complained (under section 1,11,111 )'preventing the public from being misled by an action or statement'.
It would appear there is 'no breach of the code' by placing a swastika on a Nations flag and causing offence.
You cannot appeal the decision but can appeal if you feel your complaint was dealt with unfairly .
It would appear once more process is more important than principles
# Ian Brotherhood 2013-05-19 20:20
What about the guys in the original picture?

They raised a Saltire, not a swastika - have they no redress?

I can't imagine what my weans would think if they ever uncovered a photo showing their old man anywhere near such a revolting symbol, but weren't aware that it was a doctored image.

PS Does anyone know if SoS ever apologised for using it?
# ace182 2013-05-19 22:06
[Admin - If you post such comments again then your account will be closed.]
# BRL 2013-05-19 22:59
Was the article by Gavin Bowd and were the altered picture of the Saltire to a Swastika Nazi symbol and the sub-heading, mimicking the KKK - as Klan Alba,not iffy?

Indeed was the article and presentation not bordering illegality, in being implicitly racist and intended to provoke reaction which could cause harm?
# scottishwatersnotforsale 2013-05-20 11:31
I must move in the wrong circles as everyone I know appears to have the same perception of what a swastika represents .
Obviously though the PCC see no breach of their code ,it does make me wonder what they do find 'breaches 'their code ?
Still , from my point of view as a mere voter/consumer, I will just make a point of telling anyone and everyone about this and let them decide if they really want to be seen buying a newspaper which promotes an image of Scotland with a swastika... As they say in the commercial world- every little helps

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