Amid the angst caused by Aidan Barclay’s imposition of a 10 per cent cut in editorial budgets across The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News, the papers’ publisher, Andrew Neil, is strongly resisting a Daily Record report that The Scotsman is for sale.
Describing the Record story as
"drivel", Neil replied in Saturday’s Scotsman: "In Scottish journalism there are lies, damned lies and the Daily Record. There seem to be no depths to which Scotland’s biggest-selling downmarket tabloid is prepared to plummet as it peddles invention and untruths.
"Yesterday, it faced an embarrassing problem: it had to decide how to
handle the sacking of the editor of its sister paper, the Sunday Mirror, for publishing a disgraceful article which forced the judge in the Leeds United trial to abandon proceedings without a verdict. Instead of giving this story the prominence deserved, yesterday’s Record instead decided to make up a story about The Scotsman.
"The sorry behaviour of its sister paper and its editor’s enforced resignation was crammed into a single column on a page dominated by an entirely fictitious story about The Scotsman being for sale."
Neil went on to categorically deny that The Scotsman was up for sale and
later told Press Gazette that he had since discovered that the Record was told by a senior executive of his parent company on Thursday evening that they were "barking up the wrong tree".
"But they chose to ignore that; indeed, since it wasn’t a made-up quote, like all the others in the piece, they did not even print it," he added.
Record editor Peter Cox denies this. His newspaper went to the Barclay Brothers’ PR company which refused to confirm or deny that the daily was for sale, he said.
Cuts at the three titles will in practice be more like 15 to 20 per cent, since annual budgets have already run for three months.
Pagination will go down – The Scotsman’s news section will reduce from 22 to 20 pages, its tabloid S2 from 20 to 16 and there are likely to be cuts in the business pages, say inside sources. But the staff have been told there will be no redundancies.
Neil said: "We are making cuts in
all departments, not just editorial, because the signs are that ad revenues will not be as strong this year as we planned, something all papers are experiencing.
"Cuts are always unpleasant but these come after five years of continuous and substantial generous spending rises. So we can cope without too much pain.
"The cuts will not interfere with the next expensive stage in the development of The Scotsman, timed for later this year."
The Scotsman has had another two resignations – from Rab McNeil, its Parliamentary sketchwriter, and writer Gavin Bell.
By Jean Morgan