The comical furore about The Nurse Who Definitely Isn’t An Actress shows no signs of making sense any time soon.
24 hours and several demented pages of hysterical tabloid shrieking later, we’re still not sure whether a No activist and Labour supporter from Clackmannanshire is called Suzanne Duncan (as “Better Together” called her until at least June last year) or “Suzanne Hunter” (as the Daily Record calls her), though a bit of Facebook detective work suggests the latter.
We do at least seem to have cleared up her employment history, as the Daily Record has now very quietly and subtly changed its article of last night, which claimed she’d worked for eight years at a hospital that’s only been open for five.
But a whole bundle of other questions remain unanswered.
The most immediately intriguing is “Who’s been Photoshopping her uniform?”
Below are three pictures of Suzanne. The top one is from a “Better Together” leaflet from last year, the middle one is from a Labour “vote No” leaflet just before the referendum, and the bottom one is from Labour’s NHS leaflet of this week.
We say “three pictures”, but in fact they’re clearly all the same one. You can tell by the crease lines on her tunic, the position of her watch clip and, well, everything else. But there’s one significant difference.
Where “Better Together” appear to have airbrushed out the NHS Scotland logo, presumably to stop the nurse getting in trouble for politicising her job in contravention of the rules for public-sector employees, Scottish Labour haven’t bothered.
(At first, judging by a poorer-quality scan, we suspected that they might have crudely Photoshopped the logo ON, but the one above from a high-resolution original looks like the real version.)
Nurses are entitled to hold any political views they like, and to campaign for them in their spare time like anyone else, but they’re not supposed to do so in uniform. By carelessly failing to edit out the logo, and by then ensuring that the offending picture was blared all across the internet and the print media, Scottish Labour and the Daily Record have used her and then abandoned her up a creek without a paddle.
But we pointed all that out yesterday, along with the reason.
The Record gives around three times as much space to its screaming, fuming editorial about a website suggesting a political party might have used an actress on a leaflet as it does to “correcting”, in a tiny box under the weather and the lottery numbers, the fact that it told Scots a TWENTY BILLION POUND lie on its front page just a few months ago, and inquisitive readers might wonder why.
There isn’t even the pretence of a fauxpology, or an explanation of how a senior political journalist could have so spectacularly misinterpreted the Smith Commission as to imagine that the UK government was going to hand Scotland an annual £20bn bonanza of free extra cash in the midst of savage austerity.
While the Record explodes with fabricated rage across a full-page story and a lead editorial about someone saying they didn’t know if two people were the same or not – risking a nurse’s livelihood as they do so – they bury in a corner the fact that they told a gigantic front-page lie about a sum of money that would cover the entire yearly budget of NHS Scotland twice over, and they don’t even say sorry.
The Record bleats that sites like this one “aren’t bound by the same standards of accuracy and responsibility” that newspapers are. But we said absolutely nothing about Suzanne Duncan/Hunter that was inaccurate, and we didn’t insult or abuse her in any way. Unlike the Record and Scottish Labour, we didn’t put her job on the line.
We have nothing to apologise for. The Daily Record, meanwhile, very much does, but it doesn’t seem to want to, and the toothless press watchdog is happy to let it off with a microscopic weasel-worded “correction” no bigger than the NHS Scotland logo that Scottish Labour forgot to airbrush off a nurse’s uniform.
And the reason for the massive smokescreen might be that the Record’s lie about the Smith Commission is still present on its website.
On this page, at the time of writing, you can still see the paragraph claiming a 50% boost to the Holyrood budget which was deleted from the original story after we alerted IPSO, and which the Record admits isn’t true.
Also there is the equally-false line about “billions of pounds of extra tax and spending” which can still be found on the “corrected” original page – which this morning carries no notification whatsoever of the correction, despite IPSO saying that it would.
So to recap: the Record’s original page still carries a major lie, another page on its website features that lie as well as an even bigger one that the paper claimed to have removed, and there are no links on either of them to the pitiful “correction”. Readers of the paper’s website will still come away with the completely wrong impression that the Smith Commission proposals would mean billions of pounds more for Scotland.
We’re not even going to get into the wider morality of being lectured on ethics by the newspaper group responsible for mass-scale phone hacking or the commonplace intimidation of innocent members of the public.
But we promise the Daily Record that it can monster us as much as it likes. We’re going to keep right on watching it, along with the rest of the Scottish press, and every time it lies to the people of Scotland we’ll be there to tell them about it.