Journalists barred from only Scottish Parliament facility

Scottish journalists are up in arms over plans to ban them from the only bar and restaurant in the controversial £430m new Scottish Parliament building.

MSPs have decided to give themselves the most exclusive watering hole in the country by banning members of the press, public and their own staff from the facilities from Tuesdays to Thursdays, when the Parliament is in session.

The decision was taken by a committee of six MSPs, representing the whole Parliament.

On Mondays and Fridays, when the MSPs will be away on constituency business, journalists and others will be allowed to use the facilities, but, understandably, because the MSPs will be absent, so will most of the parliamentary journalists.

The Scottish Political Journalists Association (SPJA) has lodged a formal protest to the plans.

The SPJA convener, Campbell Gunn, political editor of the Sunday Post, claims that the ban flies in the face of the Parliament’s founding principles of openness and transparency.

“This is going to be a public relations disaster for the MSPs. We will be telling them they are in the lastchance saloon.”

A Parliament spokeswoman explained that MSPs would be allowed to take in guests to the bar, including journalists, from Tuesdays to Thursdays, provided they were signed in.

She said: “All pass holders, including media and members, will have access to the bar on Mondays and Fridays during session and in recess.”

By Hamish Mackay

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