Bad blood between Scotsman Publications and The Herald Group, owned by Newsquest, is now out in the open in a public row whose depth has surprised an industry used to internecine warfare.
This latest furore was sparked by a debate on BBC Newsnight Scotland on 18 August about the highly competitive newspaper industry in Scotland, following the decision by The Scotsman to produce a daily compact.
BBC presenter Gordon Brewer chaired an acrimonious discussion between John McGurk, editorial director of Scotsman Publications, and Andrew Jaspan, editor of the Sunday Herald, who recently resigned to work in Australia.
The upshot was a full-page report in The Scotsman on 20 August, headlined: “The lies, damned lies of Andrew Jaspan. The Scotsman answers back.”
In a standfirst, The Scotsman, edited by Iain Martin, alleged: “Jaspan, who regularly uses his newspaper to deliberately tell lies about The Scotsman, made a number of false statements about The Scotsman which this newspaper seeks to correct for the record.”
The Scotsman went on to rebut many of the statements which Jaspan made on the television programme.
The article refuted the Sunday Herald editor’s claim that The Scotsman “wants to become the Daily Mail of Scotland”.
It stated: “The Scotsman is a distinctive, quality newspaper of authority and substance, aimed specifically at the very top end of Scottish newspaper readership.”
Jaspan had accused the Edinburgh broadsheet of knocking the Scottish Executive wherever possible.
Not so, said The Scotsman, claiming that it “stands up for Scotland and wants to see the Scottish Parliament succeed”.
The article in The Scotsman concluded by stating that when Jaspan was editor of the paper in 1994-95, sales fell by 5 per cent year-on-year.
By Hamish Mackay