By a Newsnet reporter
Supporters of an online website have reacted in fury after an advert for the site was pulled by Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) after an apparent complaint.
The ad had been placed with SPT by pro-independence website Wings Over Scotland and had been accepted by the transport body and placed on trains on Glasgow Underground.

The unobtrusive advert contained the site logo alongside information relating to the newspaper industry in Scotland and its collective lack of support for independence.  The advert asked readers, “Wouldn’t you at least like to hear both sides of the story”.

However, writing earlier today site editor Stuart Campbell informed readers that a complaint had been received by SPT about the adverts.

Confident the advert would be allowed, Mr Campbell wrote: “We don’t believe the banners break the rules.  They don’t state any political position, merely offer people a source of information, just like an ad for a newspaper would. 

“That information may itself have a certain slant, but then it does in the Daily Record or the Scotsman too, so we don’t feel we’re any different and we have every confidence that SPT will take a fair and reasonable view.”

However within a matter of hours, Mr Campbell broke the news that SPT had decided to pull the ad.

In an update at 17:20, he wrote: “We’ve just been informed that SPT have indeed demanded that the ads be pulled, and that they’ll probably be gone by tomorrow, so get out tonight if you want to see.”

The decision has angered many on the site and across social media in general.

One comment on the website said: “I have to say however, that this decision to remove these ads, is a bit like what might be expected in North Korea – does nobody in the Labour party value free speech anymore?? Are we really at this stage?”

Mention of the Labour party is believed to be a reference to the make-up of the board at SPT which sports no fewer than eleven Labour councillors, the largest of all political parties represented.  The board also includes three Conservatives and five SNP councillors.

However the move to ban the advert appeared to have the support of at least one journalist.  The Guardian’s Scottish correspondent Severin Carrell claimed the ads amounted to an attack on the press.  He tweeted: “@WingsScotland buys ads in every Glasgow subway car attacking Scottish press on #indyref; says SPT to pull every one “

Newsnet Scotland attempted to contact the SPT media spokespeople this evening, but despite the phone ringing for several minutes there was no reply.  We have sent emails to all of their communications team asking why the advert was pulled and who made the decision.  We have also asked whether the complaint came from an organisation or a member of the public.

Newsnet Scotland has also contacted an official from the Better Together campaign to ask if they have any knowledge of the complaint.

The transport group hit the headlines in 2010 when it emerged SPT’s former management, many of whom were Labour councillors, claimed £100,000 in “excessive” expenses.

An inquiry found that Labour councillors and officials had used public cash to pay for lavish trips to New York and India.  Another trip to Manchester took place on the same day as the UEFA cup final, in which Rangers were competing.

The 2010 report also revealed that investigations found that receipts had been shredded and that £32,000 remained unaccounted for.


Will C
2014-03-25 21:04

This is the type of censorship you expect in a dictatorship not in free speech Scotland. Shades of Orwell’s 1984!
2014-03-25 21:25

So The Guardian’s Scottish correspondent Severin Carrell believes that three short factual statements amount to an “attack on the press”.

He is obviously not a serious journalist.
2014-03-25 21:34

A full refund and costs and/or legal action. More than happy for “wings” crowd funded money to be used against SPT and Glasgow council.
2014-03-25 22:23

Posted a link for this story on 3 Facebook pages. Get the word out there about this media censorship and raise the profile of both Newsnet Scotland and Wings. The more people are aware of the news sites the better. Social media use has helped get this campaign where it is now.
2014-03-25 22:40

Now good people sit back and watch the Wings ad. go viral due to the Streisand Effect.
Rev. Campbell has totally suckered these bozos.
2014-03-25 22:50

“Severin Carrell claimed the ads amounted to an attack on the press”

Get it right, Severin–the Wings Subway Ad is a much deserved attack on the oppress/b>ors of our democracy.
2014-03-25 23:39


the ads amounted to an attack on the press.

Orly? That would be the press that argued so forcefully at Leveson that freedom of speech was so important that it should be allowed to attack anyone at all, at any time, without even a necessity to ensure that what they say is true? That press?

Auld Rock
2014-03-26 11:17

Yip Fiona, that’ll be the self same press – you know one law for the rich, another for the poor. Or don’t do as we do, do as we DICTATE!!!

Auld Rock

2014-03-25 23:13

With the polls getting closer get ready for more of this sort of thing. BT and Labour know that they are losing big online so they do not want any of the Newsnet, Bella, Wings, BBC Scotlandshire etc any publicity in the offline world. They are DESPERATE for ordinary folk not to know about places like this.

So it is up to the rest of us to spread the word however we can. We must use our grassroots advantage to let people know about these sites and the information they have.
2014-03-25 23:48

We all need to be outraged at this, they want to control how we think, will we really take that sitting down?
We need to put them in the spotlight.

I also fail to see the legality or any morals in their action.This censorship needs exposed, everywhere.
2014-03-26 00:00

Censorship, with the strings being pulled by the ‘passengers’ of the Labour gravy train no doubt.
2014-03-26 00:02

Everybody should email SPT and ask them politely why they removed the advert .
2014-03-26 01:17

Quite right WRH2.

This is disgusting. It’s a form of neo fascism and people like Severin Carrel one of their loudest supporter, barking at every YES/SNP comment. But if nothing is done by way of direct action it will continue until Sept 18 at 10.01pm.

2014-03-26 02:22

No matter what Glasgow Labour controlled SPT do the indisputable fact is that polling trends – averaged over all polls from November 2013 – show an inexorable growth for YES and a steady decline for NO.

To extrapolate these figures to September on linear growth alone gives a YES success of 53-55%. If the swing to YES for undecided voters is total it will be in the region of 65%.

This does not factor in any switch from NO to YES, as facts and information come more to the public ken, through events such as
this SPT ban on the Wings poster.

Independent blogs like NNS, Wings, Bella, and Derek Bateman, plus many more, are true heroes for us Scots and our future.
2014-03-26 04:01

I urge everyone to cast a critical eye over any ad that appears with a view to complaining. I recall a recent Army recruitment ad which I personally found a little offensive!
Decent Labour supporters must be ”hanging their heads in shame ” .
2014-03-26 10:15

Quoting staypos+ve:

I urge everyone to cast a critical eye over any ad that appears with a view to complaining. I recall a recent Army recruitment ad which I personally found a little offensive!
Decent Labour supporters must be ”hanging their heads in shame ” .

I have just sent this to SPT I will interested to see if I get a reply, I shall not hold my breath.
Dear Sirs,
I would be very grateful if you are able to explain the rationale behind removing the subway advert in relation to the website “Wings over Scotland”? With the Scottish Independence referendum being held on 18th September this year, it is important that both sides of the argument for and against Scottish Independence get fair unbiased coverage. How by removing the advert does this help the democratic process? and how does it help people decide if this “censorship” of one side of the argument is allowed?


2014-03-26 06:10

I wonder if the Scottish Media will pick up on this as to do so would serve only to publicise Wings over Scotland. This could become one of the defining moments of the YES Campaign. I look forward to today’s follow up stories.
2014-03-26 08:50

It sounds like the SPT Board have taken advice from Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin and Aleksander Lukashenko. So much for free speech in the lovely United Kingdom.
2014-03-26 10:36

the precious “press”, a delicate flower, please do not critique you, you,…..not as delicate as freespeech and democracy Severin.
2014-03-26 10:37

And to add insult to injury, this is being handed out in the SPT subway network today:…/…

Disgraceful hypocrisy by SPT.
Marga B
2014-03-26 11:00

OT: this is the second sympathetic article today on the constitutional court’s closing the door to a referendum in Catalonia. From Time – there’s another in the Financial Times.…/…

The world’s press including UK titles gives fair coverage to the independence issue in Catalonia.

What is wrong with the UK press on issues nearer home? Particularly the Guardian which apparaently lets its correspondent get involved in supporting censorship on the Scottish referendum?
2014-03-26 12:10

STV have picked up on the Wings story
2014-03-26 12:18

I expect Severin Carrell will also, in the interests of fairness and balance, condemn the anti-independence – and very politically biased – leaflet inserted in every copy of the Metro, distributed in the subway cars by SPT?

That’s the same SPT, Severin, which has now banned the Wings advert on the grounds that it was “political” in its content. I feel sure you will oppose, and expose, such blatant political double standards by SPT (Labour controlled btw)! I won’t hold my breath.
2014-03-26 12:28

It’s on the STV news website.


An SPT spokeswoman said: “SPT advertising contract guidelines state that Subway sites should not be used to campaign or lobby for political benefit.…/…
2014-03-26 13:25

I can hardly believe it, but BBC Scotland has covered this.

I’m not sure if they have talked to Stuart or if they have pulled the whole story from elsewhere, perhaps he can clarify this?
2014-03-26 13:39


Thanks for the STV link, covered very fairly, including mention of today’s Metro insert. Brilliant if this airs on their 18:00 News, with the poster on-screen.

Now on BBC also –…/…

If BBC Scotland air this too, then Rev. Stu will have received very good value for money even if SPT don’t provide a full refund plus compensation.

PS: It’s even on Teletext in the Around the UK > Scotland > Headlines!
2014-03-26 15:24

There is a lot more to come in this story Stu Campbell just tweeted this

Wings Over Scotland ‏@WingsScotland 13m
Good lord, readers, you haven’t heard the HALF of this Subway story yet. But you will
2014-03-26 15:46

Wings Censorship Scandal:

Radio Clyde News.

… have all runt he story. Here’s hoping it makes the TV news.
2014-03-26 16:10

The SPT should employ people to check on passengers who look like they might be thinking about independence or substandard newspapers whilst travelling on the Subway. Such people could be ejected at the next station and have the tickets or travel passes confiscated.
2014-03-26 16:23

Iain 2013 – I’ve just got to say – brilliant ! I’m away for a cloth to wipe the tea from the screen.

2014-03-26 16:41

Wow – just read the leaflet that was in the Metro today – it defines being a supporter of independence in all sorts of negative ways – being against things, especially the other people in the UK, keeping the oil and leaving the debts for them, and finished it all off by asking “would you want to vote like a nationalist”. This is an attempt at behaviour modification through the establishment of negative stereotypes. It goes beyond simple propaganda and is quite scary to see them resorting to this, IMHO.
2014-03-26 17:21

So it is ok for Lab in Aberdeen to send out letters telling people to vote no but Lab Glasgow to ban an ad.Hypocrisy I would say.Has anyone complained about the other advert that appears on the subway,check Wings.
2014-03-26 17:38

Wings people seem to be complaining about the leaflet in droves.

What will be interesting is if this does get aired on TV then SPT will probably either rewrite their advertising rules and let campaigners on both sides or stop allowing distribution of the Metro and thus lose revenue.

2014-03-26 19:02

Congratulations to Wings they received a great deal of free publicity over this topic. Receiving a full refund from SPT’s ad agency.
All publicity effectively Free of Charge ! That’s clever campaigning in action.
Yes Scotland and the SNP have a lesson to learn from Rev Stu Campbell. Should he be their adviser on campaign tactics?

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