Sunday, 5 April 2015

Willie McRae Part 29: Scotland on Sunday’s Arrogance


I welcome the new evidence presented in the article by Delamore and Semple in today’s Scotland on Sunday.  In Part 30, hopefully out Monday 6th April, I will review the evidence which they, and students at the University of Strathclyde’s investigative journalism course, uncovered.  The case for an inquiry should now be unstoppable but the Crown Office will almost certainly see this differently.

I have a major criticism though and it intrudes only minimally into the article itself.  I suspect that Delamore and Semple are largely innocents with the blame to be laid at editorial level.

And I need to rant about that before I look calmly and logically at the article itself. 

In this long series I have tried to be even-handed in my analysis of evidence.  The one point at which I have veered is that I come down firmly on the side of an inquiry being held but, even here, I try to be fair to both sides of the argument.  Within the Macrae case, however, much of the reporting has not been balanced: many journalists seem to have an ‘angle’ to promote and evidence is presented from that position.

Scotland on Sunday is no exception and its problems start on the front page where a photo of Willie has these words appended,

Sos on Willie1

What an invitation to buy!

But then …… the mystery isn’t solved.

False pretences and then the editorial.


NOWHERE in my reading of the case have I come across such arrogance, hype and false conclusions as were written for the Scotland on Sunday editorial.

SoS Leader

I feel for those whose work this editorial trashes through hype.   The reporters and students have produced good work but ….



McRae conspiracy theories now laid to rest

old-fashioned reporting to solve a baffling 30-year-old mystery


an exemplary piece of journalism …. has solved a 30-year mystery


None of this true!  The article doesn’t even claim this other than in its first paragraph which doesn’t fit with the rest of the article.


Good work!  Well done!   A step forward in our knowledge but not the end.  Add it to that already available and make an even better case for an inquiry.


Unfortunately, the leader-writer isn’t finished.

No doubt some conspiracy adherents will continue to insist McRae was murdered by the British state. The grassy knoll is a comfortable spot from which to view a bewildering world.

and the editor’s chair is a comfortable spot for wishful thinking.

But for most reasonable [of course, the leader-writer is one such] people, [ah! nice touch of negative labelling there!]  today’s Scotland on Sunday revelations are the final [a] chapter in a story three decades in the telling.


And then there is the article.

I’ll start working on this, now that I’ve dealt (probably inappropriately) with an inappropriate editorial.



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  1. I have read a lot about the collusion between powerful Glasgow lawyers and the Scottish press so am not surprised that this story could be influenced in this way.

  2. Debra, you might be right. My gut feel is that the reason for the OTT editorial and the more balanced article is simply a story of a struggling newspaper looking for sales. But then I might be wrong.