Speechcrime at Scottish newspapers

A newspaper in Barrhead, Renfrewshire, Scotland, “is the subject of a racial complaint being investigated by police. It follows a page one article headed Gypsy Fear,” in which the paper, the Barrhead News, claimed the town “could be swamped by gypsies from across Europe” following the establishment of a local encampment by French travellers. (Iain Wilson, “Racist complaint against newspaper”, The Herald (Glasgow), Aug. 11). And a second law enforcement action against published speechcrime has progressed farther than the mere investigation stage:

Alan Buchan, editor of North East Weekly, a free paper based in Peterhead, was recently charged under the Public Order Act, which gives the police powers to arrest anyone whom they suspect of publishing or distributing written material that is threatening, abusive, or insulting and intended to stir up racial hatred.

His paper published an editorial headlined “Perverts and Refugees” which said that a massive refugee camp could be built in the region and highlighted perceived local concerns about what this might mean for the community.

He is scheduled to appear at Peterhead Sheriff Court on September 1.

Buchan says his arrest “harks back to the activities of the old USSR”. (Guy Dixon and Terry Murden, “MediaFile” (second item), The Scotsman, Aug. 14)(via Norvell)

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