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Union takes action over threats to football journalists

The National Union of Journalists has raised concerns about threats to Scottish football journalists from far-right groups with the country’s First Minister Alex Salmond.

Paul Holleran the NUJ’s Scottish organiser has raised the issue with Mr Salmond following the claims of threats and defamatory comments made on unofficial football supporters’ websites.

The threats are thought to have ranged from attacks over the internet  to assaults and letter bombs.

Speaking to the NUJ magazine The Journalist, Mr Holleran said: “This is a health and safety issue and a press freedom issue. We are aware of several journalists working in the area of Scottish football that have been threatened and smeared on unofficial supporters’ websites

“These people are no ordinary football fans; they are far-right elements using intimidatory behaviour to attack journalists who dare to write copy they disagree with.”

One Glasgow-born freelance journalist who has reportedly been attacked through the websites is the NUJ’s Irish Executive Council member Phil Mac Giolla Bhain.

Said Mr Holleran: “He  said he had been targeted since writing on the politics of Scottish football three years ago. The targeting of journalists comes amid increasing tension in Scottish football.

“Celtic manager Neil Lennon, a high-profile Irish Catholic, has been sent bullets and letter bombs and was assaulted at a match in Edinburgh.”

Mr Lennon has apparently been the target of a vicious online campaign on social networking sites, where pages urging his injury and death have been set up.

Holleran added: “Alex Salmond has already spoken out against this behaviour as unacceptable, and I hope we can agree steps to prevent publication of this bigoted diatribe which borders on fascism.”