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Weekly apologises to readers over free speech row

A weekly newspaper caught up in a freedom of speech row which saw three columnists leave has apologised to its readers.

As reported on HTFP, the West Highland Free Press sacked its founding editor and former government minister Brian Wilson, pictured left, after he defended a controversial piece by fellow columnist Donald Macleod.

Donald, a Free Church professor of theology, was axed after writing a piece referencing the rise of Islam in the UK, which suggested “friendly Muslim shopkeepers” would march behind radical followers of the religion.

Brian had written for the title, which became the first employee-owned newspaper in the UK in 2009, for much of its 43 year history. Another columnist, Maggie Cunningham, has since said she will no longer write for the Free Press.

In a statement on the newspaper’s website, managing director Paul Wood said: “This last week has seen the Free Press endure a tidal wave of criticism, much of it valid and deserved.

“The Free Press has always been unique, more so now that it is the only employee-owned newspaper in the United Kingdom.

“There is no manual on how to run a newspaper; there is certainly no precedent for how our employee-ownership fits with the enormously challenging nature of running a newspaper.

“We have made mistakes and if every business and newspaper could be run with the benefit of hindsight, we’d have nothing to learn from.

“We can only apologise to our readers, our community and our friends. If the result of making mistakes seriously damages all the good the Free Press does, this would be a terrible pity.

“Our editor will make a further statement in this week’s print edition.”


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  • July 16, 2015 at 11:01 am

    At least the subject had an airing. Why are we so afraid of discussing anything Islamic? Political correctness is destroying the fabric of our society. I heard the other day that the Women’s Institute are intending to ban any reference to their Christian heritage out of deference to Muslim and Jewish women and ‘Jerusalem’ will soon be banned. I find that astounding. Will Muslim and Jewish women give the matter the same consideration? How daft are we getting? Cheers, Ken Jackson

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  • July 16, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    This is not political correctness, it’s pure bigotry from a Wee Free in the Highlands who, if he’s ever actually met a Muslim, certainly won’t ever have had any close or lasting contact.

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  • July 17, 2015 at 7:57 am

    A religion is an ideology, as are capitalism, socialism, liberalism, etc. Therefore Islam (or Christianity or whatever nonsense people believe in) can be criticised just like any other ideology. We are in dangerous territory if certain ideologies are given protected status.

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  • July 17, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Ken Jackson says: “Why are we so afraid of discussing anything Islamic?”

    What? Are you actually serious! Millions of people are openly discussing Islam all the time in Britain. Some of them are completely obsessed by the subject and even manage to drag it into topics which have nothing to do with Islam or Muslims. And then people like you complain about not being allowed to discuss it. God give me strength…

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