By a Newsnet reporter
A row over the banning of an advert by Strathclyde Passenger Transport (SPT) has taken a twist after the transport company at the centre of the controversy denied they took the decision.
Yesterday pro-independence site Wings Over Scotland revealed an advert promoting the site had been pulled by Strathclyde Passenger Transport after complaints were received by the company.

The ad, which had been accepted by advertising agency Primesight had been placed on trains on Glasgow Underground.  However following what was said to have been complaints about the political nature of the adverts, they were pulled by SPT.

In a statement released by the transport organisation, it claimed the advert had been removed because it breached company guidelines which forbid political adverts.

An SPT spokesperson said:

“SPT advertising contract guidelines state that Subway sites should not be used to campaign or lobby for political benefit.  Our advertising agency applies that standard to all commercial bookings but unfortunately this particular ad slipped through their net.  The ad was taken down as a result.”

However the issue has refused to die down, with the story having been picked up by several news organisations including the BBC and STV.

Today SPT denied taking the decision to pull the adverts.  Speaking to Newsnet Scotland a spokesperson explained that the decision had been taken by the advertising agency Primesight.

“It was their decision to pull the adverts” we were told.  Asked if the agency’s decision had been in response to complaints, the SPT spokesperson replied “no” and insisted that Primesight had not been made aware of any complaints before making their decision. 

SPT declined to confirm whether the complaint had come from an organisation or a member of the public, but did confirm that there had been several complaints raised.  The transport organisation spokesperson also denied any official from Glasgow Council had been consulted over the issue.

In a later statement, an SPT spokesperson said: “The decision to remove the posters was taken as it was a breach of our current contract guidelines not as a direct result of any complaints.”

According to Primesight, the advert was initially booked under a charity and did not go through their usual checks, which was why it was allowed to appear on SPT trains.  Pressed on whether this information had come from the client, Wings Over Scotland, a Primesight manager said no, and suggested it was probably a mix up in communications.

Speaking to Newsnet Scotland, Keith Lammie of Primesight said he first became aware of the advert when a colleague remarked that he had seen it on SPT.

According to Mr Lammie, he knew immediately that the advert was political and that it contravened SPT guidelines.  “It was then we took the decision to pull the ad,” he told Newsnet Scotland.

Asked whether he had been made aware of complaints SPT had received relating to the advert, the Primesight manager said he had, but only after the decision had been taken to pull the advert.

“SPT contacted us by email to ask about our procedure in dealing with complaints”.  Asked if the timing of the complaints was merely a coincidence, he replied “yes”.

When asked if he would make a copy of the email communication available to Newsnet Scotland, Mr Lammie declined.


2014-03-26 19:31

So, commercial pressure perhaps? Primesite’s contract to place ads at risk unless they take the rap?

Keep digging please Newsnet and that last question was well asked.

Murkier and murkier.
Flower of Scotland
2014-03-26 19:34

Wings has had lots of advertising for free! He,He,He! We know what really happened, but SPT will never admit it.
2014-03-26 19:46

Refusal to release the email smacks of a cover up.

As Richard Nixon found to his cost it was the attempted cover up that ended his presidency.

In these situations full disclosure limits damage.

An FOIA request to the SPT to disclose the email correspondence is inevitable now.
2014-03-26 21:08

Perhaps NNS should take out some ads. Unlike Wings, NNS isn’t a Blog of an individual, but rather a bona fide web-based news, comment and current affairs outlet.

How about it NNS?

[Admin – Unfortunately as things stand our funds do not stretch to adverts such as these.

We did have a quarter page advert in the Metro newspaper days prior to the Scottish election in 2011, but such ads are very expensive.]
2014-03-26 21:12

Seems to me what with BBC Scotland blocking comments on it’s site and now this, that the EU should be consulted. They have taken a position on Crimea so why not Scotland?


For this right to be effectively applied, a number of conditions need to be fulfilled. Freedom of expression and of opinion must be guaranteed to allow all individuals to debate public affairs and express themselves freely on the choices made by the State. Freedom of conscience and of religion must be ensured. And the importance of free and independent media becomes evident here. The opportunity to participate freely and fully in public life is also indispensable for the exercise of this right.

2014-03-26 22:14

Archie Graham is Glasgow City Councillor and vice convener.
He is also Johann Lamonts hubby.
2014-03-27 00:22

Poor man, no wonder he wants to play with trains.

2014-03-27 00:37

So how come ‘Ordinary Man’ managed to distribute in the subway a highly political poster?…/…
2014-03-27 06:23

It would appear that both SPT and Primesite
have an urgent need to adjust their nether garments.

It remains to be seen if this blatant censorship is reported in this morning’s blats.
2014-03-27 08:02

It would be great to see NNS ads on the subway but SPT will be once bitten twice shy with this. Still, I have both News Net Scotland and Wings over Scotland stickers on my car, so that’s something at least.

Keep up the good work NNS!
2014-03-27 10:09

Rabkae “a bona fide web-based news, comment and current affairs outlet.”
Spot on Rabkae – how about a crowd funded appeal – I’m in for a tenner
2014-03-27 15:04

I’ve just recveived a reply from SPT to my earlier complaint about this scandalous censordhip – as expected – a load of woffle.

Still – I’ve replied in a suitable vein – it keeps the b—–s busy.
2014-03-28 06:22

Know what I find curious? The speed at which a complaint was made, upheld, acted upon, and the ads taken down.
It is similar to those YES groups being asked to leave events because Better Together hadn’t turned up.
“Somebody” really knows the right buttons to press to get their complaints fast tracked whenever it features a pro Indy issue.

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