Peter Cox, editor of the Daily Record, has complained to BBC Scotland about its "indefensible" coverage of a Record story on an asylum-seeking Kurd murdered on Glasgow’s Sighthill estate. He has copied the letter to BBC director general Greg Dyke.
The Record’s PR company, Media House International, has also complained to Murdoch MacClennan, managing director of Associated Newspapers, about MP George Galloway’s Mail on Sunday column calling for a boycott of the Record. Galloway said that Cox had chosen "a time of racial tension to throw petrol onto the flames".
Cox’s complaint to BBC Scotland controller John McCormick attacks the general "sneering attitude" of Good Morning Scotland to the Record, questions the channel’s agenda in this instance and its failure to allow a spokesman for the Record to appear to answer accusations until the newspaper badgered them into it.
A spokesman said BBC Scotland stood by its actions and felt that its reporting had been fair and balanced and in line with its editorial policy.
An Associated spokesman said: "If it is an editorial matter, there will be no inquiry but the matter will be passed on to the editor of the title."
Cox is not backing down on his report that the Kurd, Firsat Yildiz, came to this country on a tourist passport and, when it expired, changed his surname to Dag and applied for asylum.
He denied accusations by Galloway that the paper had the information from Turkish sources and claimed the Record had paid a respected journalist from a Turkish newspaper to talk to Dag’s family, that Dag had a wealthy father and that he was trying to set up a business in this country.
Defending the story on a factual basis – "it was a perfectly legitimate story" – Cox said he had included on the front page lines from his leader which said the story in no way detracted from the horror of the murder.
Cox accused the BBC of hiring a "rent-a-mouth", Mark Brown of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, to give his views on the story. Brown, he said, had called for a mass protest demonstration outside the Record office.
"There were 29 massed journalists and cameras and 39 protesters by our optimistic count – the police said 28," asserted Cox. "Not one was a refugee and not one was a member of the public from Sighthill."
The Campaign has since complained to the Press Complaints Commission about the story.
As far as Galloway was concerned, Cox said he would not be retaliating: "He is an insignificant little MP whose views are not shared by Glasgow’s ethnic community."
By Jean Morgan