Society welcomes partial U-turn by SNP over media access to leadership hustings

Posted on: March 1, 2023 by Claire Meadows

The Society of Editors has welcomed a partial U-turn by Scottish National Party bosses following its previous decision to bar media access to the party’s upcoming leadership hustings events.

Following widespread criticism of the decision, described in a statement yesterday by the Society as “outrageous”, it has now been announced that broadcaster STV will be permitted to send one camera to record the first hustings at Cumbernauld Theatre this evening (Wednesday 1 March 2023) with a single print journalist and one radio journalist also able to attend. It is understood that all would be attending on a pooled basis whereby they cover the event on behalf of the entire media.

Responding to the announcement, Dawn Alford, Executive Director of the Society of Editors said. “While the Society welcomes the decision by party bosses to U-turn on allowing the media access to this evening’s event, the default position should always have been in favour of openness and transparency. It is essential that proper media access is permitted for all the upcoming hustings events to ensure proper scrutiny of the candidates for the benefit of the Scottish people.”

The previous decision to prevent the media from attending the hustings events had been taken by the SNP’s National Executive Committee and justified on the basis that they had been designated a “safe space for members to ask questions of the three candidates”.  

The decision was branded “outrageous” in a statement by the Society of Editors which added that there was “a clear and unequivocal public interest in the media’s ability to report on the hustings” given that the leadership election would likely determine the next First Minister of Scotland.

Following the announcement, the BBC, STV, ITN and Sky also joined together to challenge the ban.

Photo credit: PA