HUNDREDS have signed petitions in the space of 24 hours - including one that has been banned - objecting to the appointment of pro-Union broadcaster Neil Oliver as president of the National Trust for Scotland.

The historian, archaeologist, author and TV presenter who was described as “divisive” by senior SNP members for his well known pro-Union anti-independence views was chosen to replace Lord Lindsay at the helm of the conservation charity at the Trust’s AGM in Dundee’s Caird Hall.


He is notorious amongst hardcore nationalists for describing the uncertainty caused by the prospect of a second referendum as a “cancerous presence” and describing Alex Salmond as a “round, wrecking ball of a man, shaped only to do damage”.

Chairman Sir Moir Lockhead said the choice was of someone who had "spent much of his adult life championing Scotland and its heritage".

One online petition on shared by nearly 5000 which called for his removal was "disabled due to inappropriate" content after nearly 1000 had supported it in less than a day.


AFTER: What is left of the petition


BEFORE: What was posted before the petition was blocked.

The petition stated that his "politically biased views in no way make him an ideal candidate for this position".

Vitriolic petition supporters described him as a "total pompous ignoramus" and "a traitor". One comment described him as "poison to Scotland".


A separate petition signed by over 700 in one day says: "The National Trust [for] Scotland is in charge of many of Scotland's treasures, we object to this man having this appointment as he does not have the Scottish people and Scotland's interests at heart."


Mr Oliver, who was born in Renfrewshire, wrote an article in May, last year in which he referred to the independence referendum as a “hate fest”.

Last year the TV presenter best known as a presenter of several BBC documentary series, including A History of Scotland, Vikings and Coast revealed he quit using social media after being subjected to “vicious” abuse from pro-independence supporters.

The star of BBC show Coast deleted his Twitter account after being being bombarded with hate-filled messages after he spoke out in favour of the Union.

The historian and archaeologist had more than 40,000 followers on the social networking site but has now closed it down after growing tired of the abuse.

Mr Oliver's appointment marked a departure for the charity, which has previously mainly been headed by members of Scotland’s aristocracy including two Dukes of Atholl, the Earl of Wemyss and March, the Marquess of Bute, the Earl of Airlie, the Duke of Buccleuch and most recently Jamie, Earl of Lindsay.



NTS said an overwhelming majority of delegates at the AGM approved the motion to appoint Mr Oliver as president through a show of hands.

A spokesman for the National Trust for Scotland said: “The National Trust for Scotland is an apolitical charity and has no interest in an individual’s political views. Its 360,000 plus members have all political views, and none. Neil Oliver has done a fantastic job in promoting the heritage, history and archaeology of Scotland and that clearly chimes with our objectives as a charity. And those are the skills we are interested in.”

Chairman Sir Moir Lockhead explained the rationale of the appointment to the AGM, saying it came after the nomination committee carried out a "lengthy trawl" of people who might fill the gap left by Lord Lindsay.

"In looking for a new president, we decided wanted someone with enormous enthusiasm for Scotland, who knew its nooks and crannies, whose face was well kent, who could help us celebrate and share with more people the work we do and the places we protect.


"The nominations committee, I think, has risen to the challenge. Their selection is bold, inspiring and clearly shows the change that is underway within our Trust.

"The places we care for are for all Scots. So in choosing our new president, the committee has selected someone who has spent much of his adult life championing Scotland and its heritage, unearthing new insights into its stories, sharing our stunning scenery and fascinating audiences all over the world. A global reach, no less.

"Having considered all criteria the person unanimously recommended by the noms committee and approved by our board is Neil Oliver."

On his election Mr Oliver told the NTS annual general meeting that when the idea of becoming president was suggested to him he thought there had been "some kind of mistake".


Lord Lindsay told him: "You bring a great skill set to a great role within a great organisation and I think there are exciting times ahead. You certainly have my continued support and very best wishes."

His Salmond comments came in an article he wrote in May, last year in which he also said: "He [Salmond] and his sort - Sturgeon and the rest - fail even to comprehend what it is they behold and despise. So lacking in imagination are they, their vision of a post-Union future (or, at least, the one they have been inclined to share with us so far) is all but indistinguishable from the present and past that so galls them.

And he concluded by saying: "Vote SNP -- they want to shoot the dog but it's OK: after it's dead you can still keep it in your bedroom and stroke it just like always. Maybe give it a new name. Call it Independence. "

In September, last year more than 80 per cent of staff at the National Trust for Scotland questioned in a survey said they had no confidence in a restructuring plan to be presented at that year's AGM.