MP Hits Out At 'Disgusting' Abuse Of BBC's Sarah Smith By SNP Supporters

"Cultish mob of silencers" who "piled on" Smith make it harder to scrutinise Nicola Sturgeon's government, Labour's Ian Murray suggests.

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A shadow cabinet minister has hit out at the “disgusting” behaviour of Nicola Sturgeon supporters who “piled on” a BBC journalist online after she made a mistake in a live broadcast.

BBC Scotland editor Sarah Smith said during Tuesday’s News At Ten that Sturgeon “enjoyed the opportunity to set out her own lockdown rules” which were distinct from Boris Johnson’s advice for England.

The Scottish first minister took offence, insisting she has never “‘enjoyed’” anything less, after which Smith apologised.

But Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said that has not stopped so-called “cybernats” - online supporters of Sturgeon’s SNP - mounting the most “disgusting pile-on of a journalist on social media since the 2014 independence referendum”.

Murray told HuffPost UK’s Commons People podcast that Sturgeon was facing less scrutiny of her handling of the crisis than Johnson because the national media are not interested in Scotland.

But he also pointed towards a “cultish mob of silencers” that “paralyses” criticism of Sturgeon.

Murray said the Scottish government had been involved in a “cover-up” of the Nike conference in Edinburgh which is thought to have been the source of a serious outbreak of coronavirus north of the border.

A BBC Scotland Disclosure documentary told last week how 25 cases of coronavirus had been linked to the Nike conference, which took place in Edinburgh on February 26 and 27.

But the public was not told about the outbreak at the time.

Murray said this was “absolutely critical” as Edinburgh University analysis shows if Scotland had locked down at the time of the Nike conference outbreak 2,000 lives would have been saved.

“The way you track, trace and isolate properly is to ask the public,” he told Commons People.

“What the Scottish government did after that conference was ask the Nike delegates to recall where they had been and who they had met and that was the sum total of how they were able to track and trace.”

Murray went on: “What falls from that is you then didn’t have the ability for the public to make up their own decisions about whether or not they went to Murrayfield for the France-Scotland match on that Saturday, or the football, or the concert in the opera house or any of those big gatherings that were banned two weeks later.

“So these are the big questions people are asking but the UK media aren’t really interested in a Scottish context.

“And in Scotland, the way to try and get to any scrutiny of the Scottish government, you have to go through this cultish mob of silencers.

“Look at what they did to Sarah Smith last week, who tripped up on one word during a live broadcast, apologised four times, and I’ve never seen such a disgusting pile-on of a journalist on social media since the 2014 independence referendum.

“That’s the kind of paralysing poisonous politics we currently live in in Scotland.”


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