Scottish independence: Salmond adviser's apology rejected

Clare Lally Clare Lally spoke at a Better Together event on Monday

A woman has refused to accept an apology from a special adviser to Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond who made false claims about her.

Mother-of-two Clare Lally spoke at an event organised by pro-Union campaign Better Together on Monday.

Adviser Campbell Gunn contacted the Daily Telegraph newspaper to complain about her description as an "ordinary mum".

Mr Gunn issued an unreserved apology for any offence caused to Ms Lally.

The adviser, a former journalist who was previously political editor of The Sunday Post, was ordered to say sorry by Mr Salmond.

Campbell Gunn is a former political editor (with the Sunday Post) of very long standing.

The most charitable interpretation is that he forgot for a moment that his relationship with the Holyrood press is now on a completely different footing from the days when he was a senior member of the pack.

However, that is emphatically not the interpretation placed upon the matter by the three opposition party leaders at Holyrood.

They say that Mr Gunn is responsible for stirring up abuse and should quit.

Indeed, they suggest further that such abuse may have been orchestrated.

That is resolutely denied by both Mr Gunn and the first minister.

Mr Gunn had wrongly claimed in an email to a Telegraph journalist that Ms Lally was the daughter-in-law of Pat Lally, a former Labour Lord Provost of Glasgow.

"Nothing in the email I sent was intended in any way to be a personal slight on Ms Lally or question her absolute right to express her views, and I apologise unreservedly for the upset and offence that has been caused to her and her family," said Mr Gunn.

Ms Lally told BBC Scotland she had been subjected to "disgraceful, shocking and disgusting" abuse by what she described as "keyboard warriors" on Twitter after a suggestion that she was linked to the former provost appeared on a pro-independence website Wings Over Scotland.

She added: "The comments were really bad, things about me being a mum, about me being a carer, about the work I do, the campaigning I'm involved in. Just really nasty, nasty things, very personal and very upsetting.

"People think this is ok behaviour, that if we don't agree with one side then we have to be shot down, we have to be publicly ridiculed, we have to be belittled, we have to be discredited for anything that we do.

Start Quote

Are they trying to silence people? Are they trying to put them off speaking out?”

End Quote Clare Lally

"What is abnormal about wanting to speak out and be a part of the campaign that everybody wants to be a part of? It is one of the biggest decisions that is going to happen. Why am I not a nice person simply because of my beliefs?

Ms Lally said she would like Mr Gunn to define what he believed an "ordinary mum" was, and said she did not accept his apology.

However, she said it was not for her to say whether or not Mr Gunn should lose his job.

Campbell Gunn was a political journalist before becoming a special adviser to First Minister Alex Salmond

BBC Scotland has found several tweets attacking Ms Lally over her links to the Labour Party as well as some more abusive examples, including one accusing her of using her daughter's health conditions to scaremonger about the NHS.

In response to the Tweets directed at Ms Lally, Mr Gunn said: "I deplore online abuse directed against Ms Lally or anyone else - from whichever side in the referendum debate - and the assertion by the 'No' campaign that I had any involvement in the co-ordination of such activity is completely untrue.

"I sent one email to one journalist which in no way was intended to form the basis of a story. I am genuinely sorry I did so, and the first minister had no knowledge of it.

"The first minister has previously met Ms Lally, as is also reported today, and holds her in the highest possible regard."

The leaders of Scottish Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives said the first minister must sack Mr Gunn.

Ms Lally, who is from Clydebank, told the Better Together event on Monday: "I'm just a normal person but I want to do something extraordinary. I want to do my bit to help keep people together."

'Estimable person'

She told how she was grateful for the care health workers had given her seven-year-old twin girls, one of whom has cerebral palsy, and wanted to "make sure our NHS remains the best in the world".

Mr Salmond told the BBC he had met Ms Lally several times and she was "perfectly entitled to her view".

He said the claim about Ms Lally was a "mistake", but added that it was not an insult because Pat Lally was an "estimable" person.

The first minister said: "I've instructed the special adviser to apologise for any offence that's been caused by that - but she's not Pat Lally's daughter-in-law, she is an ordinary mother and she's absolutely entitled to express a view, as indeed every other person in Scotland is."

Asked whether the first minister's staff should be briefing against people who express a view on independence, Mr Salmond replied: "It was a misunderstanding.

"Saying that somebody thought somebody was somebody's daughter-in-law is not a grievous insult and shouldn't be taken as such.

"But, just to make sure, an apology will be on its way to underline the point."

The first minister was also asked to respond to claims from Ms Lally that she was targeted by abusive comments on social media.

He said: "I've always condemned anything that's said untoward on social media.

"We're conducting a great debate in Scotland at the present moment - a debate that has to be conducted at the highest level, and I would ask everybody on social media, and any media, to conduct it in that term."

Stuart Campbell, from the Wings Over Scotland, said it had only ever suggested Clare Lally "might" be related to Pat Lally, and that its main point was that she was not an "ordinary mother".

He said: "She is not elected but she is in Scottish Labour's shadow cabinet.

"She's in UK Labour's national policy forum, I believe she is the secretary of a constituency Labour Pary. She's involved in formulating Labour policy. I think that pretty much counts as being a politician."

The referendum on Scottish independence will take place on 18 September.

More on This Story

Scotland Decides

More Scotland politics stories

RSS

Referendum Live

  1.  
    10:01: More from Sir Tom

    Sir Tom added that the Bank of England would set strict conditions on any deal, which First Minister Alex Salmond may not agree with.

    He said: "I wouldn't like to negotiate that from a business point of view. I've got every faith in Alex Salmond, he's a very good negotiator, but he would not have a very strong hand to negotiate.

    "I think if anybody thinks in those circumstances the Bank of England is independent, they are living in cloud cuckoo land."

    Sir Tom added: "Long after David Cameron and Alex Salmond have left the fight, my children and their children will have to deal with how we vote tomorrow. So we better get it right."

     
  2.  
    09:42: Sir Tom's currency fear

    Businessman Sir Tom Hunter has told the BBC he is worried about what currency Scotland would use if there is a "Yes" vote.

    sir tom hunter

    Scotland's most successful entrepreneur said he is not convinced Scotland would be able to agree a currency-sharing deal with the rest of the UK.

    He said: "The fact is, we don't know what's going to happen and uncertainty for business raises our risk, raises our cost and that's not good."

     
  3.  
    09:37: Armando Ianucci

    tweets: Firstly, a poll asking Scots if they thought the campaign was causing divisions, 50% said No and 50% said Yes....

     
  4.  
    Text 80295 09:33: Your Views

    Pamela, Glasgow, on Morning Call: We are in charge of a large number of things but the most important things we are not in charge of - social welfare, foreign affairs and finance. I want to be in charge of ourselves.

    Gerry, Uddingston: I agree with Alex Salmond's aspiration about a more just society. I think we are a very, very rich country. But unfortunately there are many many ways of travelling from point A to point B. There are too many risks and too many negotiations.

     
  5.  
    09:23: International reaction

    Elsewhere in the international media, Pakistan's Dawn concludes: "All would almost certainly not be lost in the event of a 'No' win, given that even the pillars of the establishment would find it hard to retreat from the prospect they have held out of greater democratisation throughout the UK. Come what may, the significance of this key moment in British history is unlikely to be lost in a hurry."

    Aleksandr Polivanov, deputy editor in chief of Russia's Vedemosti writes: "Whatever the results of the voting in Scotland, unlike the Crimea referendum, it will become an example of a neat approach to redrawing borders in Europe."

     
  6.  
    09:17: The Herald

    Time for a wee laugh - here's Herald cartoonist Steve Camley's take on developments.

    Herald caartoon
     
  7.  
    Text 80295 09:04: Referendum - Your Views

    Dave, Edinburgh: I'm voting No and have never wavered. Why? Issues, not emotion. Currency union with interest rates controlled externally isn't independence. Net higher public spending per head, pensions, and NHS safer as part of a larger entity.

    Liz, Stepps: The final push is on, very exciting. For far too long people have left Scottish shores for a better future. Let's give them a better future here and put our own house in order (no-one can do it for us) with a Yes vote.

     
  8.  
    08:58: Morning Call

    BBC Radio Scotland's Morning Call is now under way, through until 11:00.

    Get in touch if you have changed your mind on your vote by calling 0500 92 95 00, texting 80295 or emailing morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk

     
  9.  
    08:57: The view from South Korea

    South Korea's English-language newspaper JoongAng Daily runs an editorial piece on the referendum today.

    The article says: "The separation of England and Scotland symbolizes the end of the British Empire. When the two kingdoms united 300 years ago, the nation began to emerge as the center of world history...It is hard to predict the outcome of the referendum.

    "But one thing is clear: The United Kingdom has failed to quell the complex discontent and frustration felt by the minority Scots, despite three centuries of shared history and identity. England calls for a "Better Together" based on economic calculation, but it is doubtful whether economic benefit can override the Scots' pursuit of pride, dignity and political separatism."

     
  10.  
    #bbcindyref 08:52: Get involved

    George Marshall tweets: I don't know anyone who isn't voting in tomorrow's #indyref. I hope the polling stations can cope with unprecedented numbers

     
  11.  
    08:49: Blairs together

    Mr McDougall told Good Morning Scotland the campaign had been an "amazing experience", and Mr Jenkins said it had involved "fantastic people".

     
  12.  
    08:45: Two Blairs

    Yes Scotland's Blair Jenkins added: "The promise that David Cameron made yesterday did not stand up for 24 hours. I think people in Scotland will be making a very clear choice."

    Better Together's Blair McDougall said: "Right from the start we tried to be focused on undecided voters. We are still looking for these undecided voters."

     
  13.  
    08:39: More Jenkins

    Mr Jenkins also says: "I always visualised the campaign being about conversations.

    "I think that's how it's been. We have really let people get on with it. Both campaigns have now had more than two years."

     
  14.  
    08:37: More McDougall

    Better Together's Blair McDougall adds: "I do not think anyone is going to cast a protest vote.

    "People realise there is no going back."

     
  15.  
    08:35: 'Neck and neck'

    Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, has told Good Morning Scotland: "It looks neck and neck.

    Blair Jenkins

    "I believe the very, very high turnout makes polls extraordinarily difficult."

     
  16.  
    08:33: 'Really struggling'

    Blair McDougall, campaign director of Better Together, has told Good Morning Scotland: "I think a lot of people are really struggling with this decision.

    Blair McDougall

    "They want to be 100% sure they are making the right decision."

     
  17.  
    08:31: What the papers say

    It's the day before Scotland goes to the polls, so only one issue could dominate the front pages of the newspapers.

    papers

    The Sun pitches the vote as Britain's Got Talent v The Ecks Factor. It tells readers the referendum is your voice, your choice your vote.

    The Daily Record appeals to campaigners to 'keep the heid' on the final day of campaigning. The Scottish Daily Mail says there are 24 hours to save Britain. Read our full review here.

     
  18.  
    08:24: 'Comradely friendship'

    Mr Salmond concludes the interview by saying in the event of a "Yes" vote he would approach negotiations with the Westminster government in a spirit of "comradely friendship".

     
  19.  
    08:22: 'For Queen and democracy"

    Following comments from military figures critical of the pro-independence position, Mr Salmond says: "Listen to other comments, such as from a 102-year-old desert rat, and a range of other people who have served this country, coming out in favour of 'Yes'.

    "They served for the Queen and democracy. They should listen to the words of serving soldiers - they don't believe in Yes or No, they believe in democracy."

     
  20.  
    08:18: 'Team Scotland'

    More from Mr Salmond: "If we are successful, and I'm assuming absolutely nothing, as first minister my first act will be to say, look, the campaign's are over, what we have now is Team Scotland."

    "I shall be inviting people from across the political spectrum to join Team Scotland. I shall do this regardless of the result," he adds.

     
  21.  
    08:15: 'Once in a lifetime opportunity'

    On a currency union with the rest of the UK, Mr Salmond says: "An overwhelming majority of people in Scotland back the Yes campaign on this matter.

    "It's in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK. We're in the final stages of one of the most exhilarating political campaigns in western Europe.

    "I never thought in my political life I'd see people queuing up patiently to register to vote, as I did in Dundee. What they care about is having a once in a lifetime opportunity to influence their country."

     
  22.  
    08:10: Salmond on Today

    Following Alistair Darling's appearance earlier, First Minister Alex Salmond is currently speaking on Radio 4's Today programme.

    alex salmond

    Asked about further devolution offered in the event of a No vote, he tells presenter Jim Naughtie in Edinburgh: "These are the same package announced last spring - repackaged in desperation yesterday. They've been discounted by the Scottish people."

    He says Scotland will use the pound following a "Yes" vote, saying there will be a "common-sense agreement. You know it and I know it."

     
  23.  
    08:09: Coming up... Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    On Morning Call today on BBC Radio Scotland at 08:50: Have you changed your mind on how you're going to vote in the referendum?

    And we're inviting you to put forward your positive case for voting "Yes" or "No".

    Lines are open now - get in touch by calling 0500 92 95 00, texting 80295 or emailing morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk.

    Morning Call graphic
     
  24.  
    08:05: 'Human community'

    No supporter Elisabeth Fraser, 94, told Good Morning Scotland's Gary Robertson: "I think we are all a human family and I do not want a border between England and Scotland."

    Yes supporter Audrey Birt said: "I quite agree with everything Elisabeth said, we are part of the big human community, but I am voting for us to have the power over our own situation."

     
  25.  
    08:04: 'It's our country too'

    Asked if he would take up Alex Salmond's invitation to join "Team Scotland" in the event of a "Yes" vote, Mr Darling says: "He is not Team Scotland. We will all play our part because it's our country too - it's not his."

     
  26.  
    08:02: JD Sports: 'No major impact'

    JD Sports executive chairman Peter Cowgill told this morning's Radio 4 Today programme the company does not think a "Yes" vote would have a "major impact" on trade.

    Asked if there was a danger prices would rise, he said: "No, not at all… we operate in Europe as well and it would be a similar process".

     
  27.  
    07:55: 'This will settle it'

    Asked on Radio 4 if a "No" vote would only hold back independence for a short time, Alistair Darling says: "No, because both sides are agreed. This is to settle the matter for a generation."

     
  28.  
    07:50: As others see us

    Professor Muriel Casals, president of the Catalan civic organisation Omnium Cultural, told Good Morning Scotland that people there were watching events in Scotland closely.

    She said: "Unfortunately for us the Spanish government is saying 'you don't have the right to go to the polls to say whatever you want'. We are campaigning for the right to go to the polls. It's wonderful for you that you are going."

    Catalan protesters

    Udo Seiwert-Fauti, a German journalist who works in Strasbourg, told the programme: "It's amazing how much interest Germans have. They realise what is going on here."

     
  29.  
    07:48: 'Tragedy' of break-up

    Mr Darling adds: "Over the last 300 years, we have all built the UK together. We have benefited from that strength that comes from acting together, pooling and sharing resources in good times and bad times and I think it would be a tragedy if the relationship were broken."

     
  30.  
    07:44: More Darling

    Mr Darling tells presenter Jim Naughtie: "What Alex Salmond doesn't tell you is that public spending is £1,200 more per head of population here than it is south of the border."

     
  31.  
    07:42: Darling on final push

    Better Together leader Alistair Darling is speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on the final day of campaigning.

    alistair darling

    Mr Darling: "People going to the polls tomorrow will be in no doubt that you can have a stronger Scottish Parliament, with more powers and more responsibility to raise the money it spends.

    "And that means the health service - if you want to spend more money on it you can do it and it really doesn't matter what is happening in the rest of the UK."

     
  32.  
    07:37: Salmond plea to voters

    Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has written to voters urging them vote "Yes".

    In the letter, he asks voters to step back from the political arguments and trust in themselves as they go into the polling booth.

    The letter says: "The talking is nearly done. The campaigns will have had their say. What's left is just us - the people who live and work here. The only people with a vote. The people who matter.

    "The people who for a few precious hours during polling day hold sovereignty, power, authority in their hands. It's the greatest most empowering moment any of us will ever have. Scotland's future - our country in our hands.

    "What to do? Only each of us knows that. For my part, I ask only this. Make this decision with a clear head and a clear conscience."

     
  33.  
    07:29: The view from Germany

    Lizbeth in Muir of Ord: Spoke to a German visitor yesterday he says "Angela Merkel says No but the folk say Yes ... you are very lucky, everyone in the world loves Scotland. We hope you say Yes."

     
  34.  
    07:15: Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    How others see us - #bbcgms gets the view from Germany and Catalonia 0715. #indyref

     
  35.  
    07:15: Kenneth Macdonald BBC Scotland Science Correspondent

    The organisers of the referendum count will use techniques from forensic and computing science to handle a record number - almost 790,000 - of postal votes.

    Polling card for Scottish referendum

    Counting staff are using scanners and advanced signature recognition software to make sure the person who posts in their vote is the same one who applied for it.

    The machines will not be set to reject ballots automatically - they would then be checked by humans.

     
  36.  
    07:03: The polls

    With just a day of campaigning left, the polls suggest the result of the referendum is still too close to call.

    Three new polls, one by Opinium for the Daily Telegraph, another by ICM for the Scotsman and a third by Survation for the Daily Mail, were published last night. With undecided voters excluded, they all suggested a lead for "No" of 52% to 48%.

    For more on the polls, go to our poll tracker on the Scotland Decides website.

    Poll tracker
     
  37.  
    06:56: On the campaign trail

    For Yes Scotland, First Minister Alex Salmond kicks off his final day of campaigning with a visit to Hyspec Engineering in Stewarton, Ayrshire, to discuss jobs.

    For Better Together, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will be addressing events across the Highlands, including Kingussie, Inverness and Nairn, and Scottish Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale will join "No" campaigners at Haymarket Station in Edinburgh.

    Elsewhere, well-known "Yes" campaigners including Elaine C Smith, Ricky Ross and River City cast members will address voters in Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

     
  38.  
    06:53: Good Morning Scotland

    Tune into Good Morning Scotland for the latest Scottish independence referendum news and analysis.

    Gary Robertson

    On the final day of campaigning before tomorrow's vote, presenter Gary Robertson speaks to both sides in Edinburgh.

     
  39.  
    06:49: Gary Robertson BBC Radio Scotland

    A look at the #indyref issues for Edinburgh as we hear from yes and no campaigners in the capital. #bbcgms

     
  40.  
    06:47: 'The Scottish average'

    Polling expert John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, has been telling Good Morning Scotland which areas of the country he thinks will be most important to the result.

    voter with umbrella at 1999 Holyrood election

    He said: "This is a nationwide vote - none of them will be decisive.

    "If there's anywhere one can pick out, then maybe Fife will end up closest to the Scottish average."

     
  41.  
    06:42: Ex-military warn over 'Yes' vote

    Military figures have warned Scottish independence would make the whole UK more vulnerable to attack.

    British soldiers in Afghanistan

    In an open letter in the Sun newspaper, 14 former armed forces chiefs said a "No" vote in Thursday's referendum was "critical for all our security".

    Breaking up Britain would "weaken us all", they added.

    The letter "to the people of Scotland" was signed by seven former Chiefs of Defence Staff - Lords Boyce, Guthrie, Inge, Vincent, Stirrup, Craig and Richards.

     
  42.  
    06:30: Welcome Marianne Taylor BBC Scotland news

    Good morning and welcome to Referendum Live. We'll be here till late with the latest news, comment and analysis around tomorrow's vital vote.

    It's the final day of campaigning and both sides will be going all out to win over those final switherers.

    You can keep in touch and tell us your views throughout the day - tweet using #bbcindyref, email or text 80295.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.