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Wings Over Scotland


Archive for the ‘navel-gazing’


The power of ideas 715

Posted on September 01, 2019 by

So it seems like our semi-idle musings about the possibility of starting a new list party for the Scottish Parliament generated some interest last month.

(That’s more than the whole of 2018, more than the whole of 2017, and over five times the previous biggest single month since we moved to our current stats provider in December 2014.)

But yeah, nobody cares and it’d be certain to fail, apparently.

The flip test 135

Posted on August 21, 2019 by

If you’re a writer for a living and you want to check if something you’ve written might be embarrassingly stupid, there’s an easy and quick technique you can use.

By way of example, here’s Kenny Farquharson in the Times today, on the subject of the supposed similarities in the relationships between the Tories and the Brexit Party, and the SNP and the potential new Wings party:

So here’s the trick: switch the protagonists around.

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Wings Unclipped 383

Posted on July 25, 2019 by

After it became the most-watched episode in the show’s history, the producers of The Alex Salmond Show made a double-length “Director’s Cut” of our recent interview, which you can watch below if you should feel so inclined.

The Screw 658

Posted on July 08, 2019 by

We’ve just received the verdict in the hearing over costs in our court case against Kezia Dugdale, and it’s an incomprehensible one. The sheriff has awarded costs in full to Dugdale, plus a 50% “uplift” mainly on the grounds of the “complexity” of the case, despite Dugdale having employed the services of perhaps Scotland’s highest-paid specialist defamation QC.

Full costs were awarded despite the sheriff having found that the core complaint on which the case was brought – namely that Dugdale had unjustly defamed me with a damaging and wholly false claim that I was a homophobe – was in fact wholly upheld, and that I had indeed been so defamed.

No explanation was given with regard to the supposed complexities from which the uplift arose. The case was in fact a quite straightforward one in defamation terms: an allegation was made, no supporting facts were provided for it and it was found to be entirely false, but the defender was excused liability on the grounds of honest belief – despite being unable to provide the sheriff with any rational basis for that belief.

That’s just about the bare minimum of complexity that could ever possibly exist in a defamation case, and readers might understandably feel that it ought to have been well within the normal skill set of the defender’s representatives, particularly given that the document comprising the entire core of the case was a single tweet of less than 140 characters.

Apparently if you’re a lawyer who’s been paid tens of thousands of pounds to debate a single tweet you also deserve a 50% bonus by way of extra compensation for all the stress and trauma of, um, doing your normal job.

Kezia Dugdale at no point before, during or after the case apologised for or withdrew her remarks – indeed, after our initial complaint she repeated and expanded them, leaving us with no remedy but to pursue the matter in court, and to compete as best we could with the astronomical sums spent on Dugdale’s defence by external parties and approved by the court even though the sum being sued for was relatively modest.

We don’t yet have a final bill, but we expect it to be in the rough vicinity of £100,000 as previously advised. We’ve already polled readers on their desired response in that event, and received an overwhelming majority of 9:1 in favour of filing an appeal against the substantive judgement on the case.

(The verdict on expenses cannot in practice be appealed itself, but were a substantive appeal to be successful the expenses verdict would automatically be overturned.)

We intend to carry out that decision, but any further views are welcomed.

Imagine our astonishment 242

Posted on July 03, 2019 by

When this complaint got the brush-off from the BBC, flatly refusing a right of reply under Article 28 of the Broadcasting Code to the Corporation’s grossly unbalanced and factually-inaccurate coverage of our court case against Kezia Dugdale:

We now have to go through TWO more rounds of pointless dickaboutery and dismissal from the BBC, taking up several weeks, before Ofcom will take the matter up.

(You may have noted, incidentally, that the letter gives no indication that its response can be appealed in any way. It took Ofcom to tell us it could.)

We’ll keep you posted.

A failure of balance 301

Posted on June 24, 2019 by

After five days I’ve had no response to this:

As Ofcom require any complaints about the BBC to be directed to the Corporation first, I’ve sent the BBC the letter below today (by physical mail, as the online complaint form is comically inadequate), which I expect to be a waste of time and energy. If I don’t receive a satisfactory response – and I’m sure that I won’t – I’ll take it up with Ofcom.

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A tissue of fair comments 256

Posted on April 19, 2019 by

Most of the on-the-spot media reporting of the judgement in our court case against Kezia Dugdale on Wednesday was pretty fair and straightforward news coverage. The majority of pieces accurately and prominently mentioned the fact that the sheriff had found that I wasn’t a homophobe and that Dugdale’s article in the Daily Record which had claimed that I was WAS both untrue and defamatory.

(Some readers objected to headlines claiming that Dugdale had been “victorious”, but the strict legal fact is that she had.)

But it didn’t take long for the press to recover its composure and revert to type.

A comment piece in today’s Herald is probably the peak so far.

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The severed baby 638

Posted on April 17, 2019 by

My legal team and I have just received, unexpectedly early, the sheriff’s verdict in my defamation case against Kezia Dugdale. The short and paraphrased version is that yes, she did defame me by inaccurately calling me a homophobe, but because she’s an idiot who doesn’t know what words mean, she’s allowed to, so we lose.

Some key passages of the 37-page judgement are appended below.

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Anarchy in the rUK 1,228

Posted on March 24, 2019 by

Well, hopefully there won’t be too much of that, as we’ve got a sitter in to keep the Separats in check while we’re away. But activity on Wings will probably be a little sparse over the next few days, for hopefully-obvious reasons.

There’s a limit on how much we’ll be able to say about the case, and chances to post on the site will be restricted in general, but we’ll try to keep on top of any important events. Normal service will be resumed ASAP. In the meantime, behave yourselves.

The seven-year itch 172

Posted on November 07, 2018 by

Wings Over Scotland is seven years old today (the period of time defined by the Good Friday Agreement as a “generation” in terms of referendums), and it doesn’t feel like a day over 25. Can we hurry up and have another indy vote before the entire country burns to the ground around our ears, please?

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Half the news fit to print 188

Posted on October 03, 2018 by

It’s probably time we started collecting all the media articles from the last couple of weeks about our ongoing legal battle with former Scottish Labour branch manager Kezia Dugdale, because it’s getting increasingly hard to plough through them all.

The story that Labour were pulling Dugdale’s legal funding was first broken by the Huffington Post on 19 September. Below is all the coverage we’ve found between then and now (most recent first). As best as we can recollect, incidentally, we’ve been asked for quotes for TWO of these stories.

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Cutting your losses 123

Posted on September 30, 2018 by

We’d hoped not to have to write any more about this for a while, but a story broke this evening on left-wing Labour website Skwawkbox that we thought those of you not on Twitter would want to see.

Following a previous piece casting huge doubt on Dugdale and the Scottish media’s version of events, the site got hold of a letter (dated yesterday) from Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby to Mary Fee MSP, who’d sent a complaint about the party’s decision to stop funding Dugdale’s legal costs.

And it’s quite the read.

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