By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish media’s refusal to correct false claims from Gordon Brown relating to blood transfusions and organ transplants in an independent Scotland, has caused anger amongst Yes supporters.
On Monday several news outlets carried claims from the former Prime Minister after he said a Yes vote would put cross border cooperation on health at risk.

According to the former Labour leader, independence for Scotland could see people denied life-saving blood transfusions and missing out on rare organ transplants.

Mr Brown said a Yes vote would see Scotland, “break all constitutional links with the rest of the UK”.

The MP for Kirkcaldy said: “Nowhere are these connections more deep-seated than in our willingness to support each other’s health and give to each other, when in need, blood and even organs such as hearts, lungs and livers and not primarily as a commercial transaction but as a gift, and often creating a lifelong bond.

“Simply to chart those links and see the willingness to help each other in times of trouble should leave all of us bursting with pride at what we have achieved by co-operation and working together. None of this must be put at risk.”

The claims resulted in headlines across most of the Scottish media, with STV, the Scotsman and the Courier all headlining the claims from the former PM.

However, as revealed by Newsnet Scotland back in March, the claims had already been dismissed by the NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) service, which deals with the transport of vital organs across the country.

As we revealed, the body had already stated that it expects cross-border healthcare systems to stay in place after a Yes vote in September.

The contents of the year old letter were subsequently re-affirmed when online site Wings Over Scotland received further confirmation that Mr Brown’s claims were entirely false.

In a communication, an NHSBT official said:

Thank you for your recent telephone call to the NHSBT Donor Line.

I can confirm that Scottish independence will not affect organ donation and the system will continue as it does currently.

I hope this answers your query, please let me know if you require any further information and I will be happy to help.

Despite two separate communications from NHSBT, each confirming current arrangements would remain in place, not one of the news outlets which headlined Mr Brown’s claims has issued a correction.

Writing on his blog, Wings Over Scotland administrator Stuart Campbell said: “You’d imagine that the publications concerned would have wanted to put their readers’ minds at rest by publishing that categorical reassurance today, wouldn’t you?”

In a reference to what many see is the media’s willingness to headline claims from the anti-independence campaign, regardless of veracity, Campbell added: “You know how the rest goes by now, readers.”

In a long list of online comments, many were critical of the media’s refusal to issue corrections or pursue the Labour MP.  Some accused Brown of deliberately setting out to cause alarm.

One poster wrote: “Brown just needs to snap his fingers and they come running to report what he says. It’s been going on like this for months.”

Another said: “Why would anyone retract propaganda? They know it was lies when they publish it. It is published to spread a carefully chosen piece of misinformation, and to have a specific effect on a particular group of people.”

The poster added: “It’s a vile and disgusting strategy, day after day. No matter how the vote goes, those involved in this behaviour are going to be condemned and detested for a very long time by a lot of people.”

The failure to apply basic journalistic checks to claims from a senior pro-Union politician follows on from a similar episode last week when several media outlets published claims from anti-independence campaign Better Together (BT) relating to the EU membership of a newly independent Scotland.

According to senior BT members, a speech from new EC President Jean-Claude Juncker was proof that a newly independent Scotland would be forced to leave the EU for at least five years.

However it later emerged that Mr Juncker had not been talking about Scotland and the speech was a reference to so-called ‘candidate countries’ that, unlike Scotland, are not already part of the EU.


2014-07-22 19:00

The Scotsman online today has two letters clarifying the position, the letter from Dr Catriona Pagliare also highlights the fact that Scotland provides more donors.
2014-07-22 19:08

Why does any one listen to this crazed, bitter, incompetent fool who cannot even get his facts right. He very well knows (if he’s not too thick) that Scotland can scour the continent for donors in countries who will reciprocate the transplant and blood-donor services. If rUK wants to exclude itself, so be it. He is trying to scare a very small and vulnerable part of the electorate, and it will achieve nothing – only make him look inhumane and even more stupid.
2014-07-22 20:34

The “failure to apply basic journalistic checks” only applies when they are spreading a Unionist lie.

When the “Juncker ‘sympathetic’ to Scotland bid” story appeared, checks were made immediately.

An obvious attempt to discredit the story was published within hours.

Disgracefully biased.
Flower of Scotland
2014-07-22 20:49

You are doing a really good job here, debunking BBC’s lies, including whatever politician steps up.

I am ashamed particularly of Gordon Brown. I live in Fife and I am 68 yrs old and truly ashamed of this man. How can he deceive people, especially targeting older people. It’s so nasty.

Especially when he is making so much money out of being such a deceitful person. I hope that one day he gets his comeuppance!!
2014-07-22 22:16

It was a dark day for democracy when Better Together was formed with its remit to spread fear, smears, and disinformation designed to destroy the aspirations of the people of Scotland who want to remove as much control over their own political destiny from Westminster as is possible and return it to Scotland where it rightly belongs.

We can only hope that they pay the price for what they have done on 18 September.
2014-07-22 22:56

Marian,their campaign has a sole purpose,to stop Scots voting for independence.
They will say and do anything to achieve that end.
Why they are doing it has nothing to do with the welfare of Scots but entirely to serve vested interests in London.
No Thanks suits their campaign slogan much better.
2014-07-23 00:51

We have entered the silly season. But then for Gordon Brown, one of the least successful PMs the UK has ever had, it is silly season all year round. To anyone waiting on an organ donation this nonsense will be deeply upsetting. The inhumanity of Labour is shown in all its callous reality.
2014-07-23 05:43

It is to be hoped that YES are maintaining a file of all the lies and smears pepetrated by Project Fear and that in the final run-up to 18/9 these disgraceful lies will be produced and comprehensiuvel  y discredited with rock solid evidence of their lack of substance.

If this is done in the final referendum broadcasts it should knock the final nail into the coffin of Project Fear and lead to a massive majority vote for YES.
2014-07-23 05:59

What is it about open and honest democracy that so terrifies the Unionist and their deceit-ridden lackeys?
Dundonian West
2014-07-23 10:53

It gives me no pleasure at all to post this. I’d have expected better from any former Prime Minister.
I fear this is now habitual,and democracy itself is the first casualty.

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche
2014-07-23 20:15

Joseph Goebbels put forth a theory which has come to be more commonly associated with the expression “big lie.”

Goebbels wrote the following paragraph in an article dated 12 January 1941, 16 years after Hitler’s first use of the phrase. The article, titled Aus Churchills Lügenfabrik (English: “From Churchill’s Lie Factory”) was published in Die Zeit ohne Beispiel.

“The essential English leadership secret does not depend on particular intelligence. Rather, it depends on a remarkably stupid thick-headedness. The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

You must be logged-in in order to post a comment.