Nicola Sturgeon has labelled independence campaigners’ abuse of a journalist as “disgraceful”. Protesters yelled at James Cook, the BBC’s Scotland Editor, as they demonstrated outside the Conservative hustings in Perth on Tuesday, with calls of “traitor”, “scumbag rat” and “liar” heard. On Wednesday, Scotland’s First Minister hit out at the independence backers who abused him. Mr Wootton slammed Ms Sturgeon for taking too long to respond.
“Hurling abuse at journalists is never acceptable,” the SNP politician tweeted.
“Their job is vital to our democracy and it is important to report and scrutinise, not support any viewpoint.
“James Cook is a journalist of the highest quality and a total pro – the behaviour he was subjected to last night was disgraceful.”
Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, the First Minister said she would “condemn any abusive behaviour”.
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“I’m not responsible for it, I wasn’t in Perth last night,” she added.
“That wasn’t being done in my name – as far as I’m aware it wasn’t SNP members doing that.
“If SNP members behave in that way, appropriate action will be taken.”
She added: “I want to live in a democracy where we have these debates and settle them democratically, rather than be denied the opportunity to settle them democratically.”
In response, Dan Wootton lashed out: “Good to see Nicola Sturgeon’s civic nationalism in action tonight.
“It took Nicola Sturgeon until 1pm this afternoon to finally condemn the behaviour of the ilk but she was also quick to add an anti-Tory barb of her own.
“Is it any wonder separatist thugs feel the need to behave like that when Sturgeon herself has consistently spewed the toxic and divisive rhetoric she claims to disapprove of?”
When asked if SNP members should be suspended if they were found to be at the protest, the First Minister said she would not be drawn on hypotheticals.
Meanwhile, Scottish Government minister Patrick Harvie said he supported the right to peacefully protest, but added that it had to be “peaceful and respectful”.