Two columnists out in freedom of speech row at West Highland Free Press

The founding editor of a weekly newspaper in Scotland has reportedly been sacked as a columnist in a freedom of speech row.

According to reports, Brian Wilson – who is a former Labour minister – was dismissed after coming to the defence of another columnist, Donald Macleod, who was said to have been "effectively" fired following a controversial article.

Macleod, a Free Church professor of theology who has written for the newspaper for 24 years, wrote on 22 May:  "All minorities prefer to keep a low profile and avoid trouble.

"Generations of British Muslims have done exactly that, many have made an invaluable contribution to British society, and many are perfectly prepared to listen quietly while Christians 'witness' to them.

"But when minorities become majorities, things change… in the event of Islamic dominance in Britain our friendly Muslim shopkeepers will have little option but to march behind the radicals."

The Herald in Glasgow reported Macleod's son as stating on Facebook that he had been "effectively" fired after this.

And now Wilson has also reportedly been forced out of the newspaper after he wrote a column defending Macleod.

According to the Herald, Wilson defended Macleod by saying that his piece was on migrants "leading on to wider questions about Islamic influence within Europe, including implications for democracy and freedom".

"The precedent he quoted was what happened in Algeria between the fourth and seventh centuries, from Augustine to Mohammed, so in raising current issues, he was – as ever – taking the long view of history."

Wilson said that not everyone would agree with Macleod but that letters were published to express dissent. He wrote: "Unfortunately, it did not end there and as a result of whatever else transpired, Donald concluded that…he should no longer contribute his column."

It has also been reported that broadcaster Maggie Cunningham has said she will no longer write a column for the paper.

The Free Press said in a statement: “We note there has been some speculation around Professor Donald Macleod and founding editor Brian Wilson no longer writing columns for the West Highland Free Press and confirm they will both be no longer writing for us. We thank both Brian Wilson and Professor Macleod for their immense contribution to the paper over many years. They have rightly earned their reputation as erudite, passionate and respected writers and their regular offerings in the West Highland Free Press will be missed by some readers. Further than this, we have no comment to make.”

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