By a Newsnet reporter
The political editor of the Herald newspaper has accused online independence supporters of sending intimidating messages to journalists they believe are critical of independence.
Speaking on the Shereen Nanjiani show on BBC Radio Scotland, journalist Magnus Gardham called for action over anonymous “trolls” he claimed were responsible for spreading "hatred and bile" on the internet.
Mr Gardham was taking part in a discussion on the Conservative peer Lord McAlpine who had been wrongly implicated in a sex abuse scandal by the BBC and who was considering taking legal action against people who posted messages on Twitter naming him.
The former Daily Record reporter, who recently joined the Herald, said he hoped that the Lord McAlpine scandal would be a “defining moment” for social media and added:
“In Scottish politics there is a huge problem with internet trolls who target journalists who are perceived to be critical of Scottish independence, who hide under a cloak of anonymity and spread bile and hatred and abuse and intimidation.
“If a precedent can be set in this case which shows that it’s not acceptable and there are sanctions then I think that will be entirely healthy.”
Mr Gardham was not pressed by show host Shereen Nanjiani and his claims went unchallenged.
The journalist, who was introduced as political editor of the Herald and who is himself perceived by most people to be pro-Union, was also recently critical of a Newsnight Scotland programme that failed to inform viewers that a legal expert who appeared on the programme was an SNP supporter.
In an article in the Herald, he wrote: “Andrew Tickell was introduced simply as an Oxford University lawyer without mention of his role as a high-profile Nationalist blogger, who writes online under the pseudonym, ‘Lallands Peat Worrier’.”
The Newsnight Scotland programme saw Labour MP Ian Davidson aggressively accuse show host Isabel Fraser of being anti-Unionist.
Hear Mr Gardham's comments