A FURIOUS row has broken out over a decision by the Prime Minister's office to exclude The Herald's sister paper from her Scottish press conference.

The No 10 press office said "limited capacity" meant they wouldn't be able to invite Scotland's only pro-independence newspaper to Theresa May's meeting in Bridge of Weir. 

Thursday's front page of The National features a silhouette of Mrs May with the strap line: "We were not allowed in to her press event with the other newspapers. We have refused to cover it."

Downing Street's decision drew criticism from across the political spectrum, with Lib Dem MP Christine Jardine, a former journalist, calling the decision incompetent while SNP MSP Paul Wheelhouse say Mrs May was "feart".  

The Prime Minister held a question and answer session with the press in Scotland's largest city this afternoon as she continues her charm offensive around the UK, seeking support for her Brexit deal. 


May delivers her Brexit statement to the Commons on Monday

Christine Jardine said: "We all know that there are times when events have to be ‘pooled’, but that’s not the case here and for the PM’s team to leave themselves open to this sort of criticism is incompetent.

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“Surely when the country is facing the most important decision for generations the Government should want to ensure not only the widest and best coverage, but not allow anything to distract from the issue.

“Brexit is going to have a disastrous effect on the UK’s economy. There is no use in Theresa May defending her deal to an audience of her own picking. Just like it’s not worth her holding a debate on the deal if she isn’t going to allow the Liberal Democrats to present the case for a people’s vote and a chance to exit from Brexit.

“This allows the claim that journalists are being excluded, a tactic previously deployed by Trump and Alex Salmond. That is not acceptable.”

Mr Wheelhouse took to social media to criticise the decision, tweeting: "The Prime Minister is scared of coming up against anyone that can publicly unravel her poorly constructed Brexit proposal that will damage Scotland’s economy & again treat fishing industry as expendable.

"She is also too feart to debate staying in SM/CU with our First Minister."


Theresa May 'feart' says Paul Wheelhouse MSP,

Current and former journalists were also quick to pour scorn on the decision, with ex-Scottish Daily Mail political reporter and then Labour spin doctor Alan Roden tweeting: "Along with other journalists, I was barred from an @AlexSalmond press conference in 2014.

"That was wrong then. If @Number10press is banning the @ScotNational, that is equally wrong and completely unacceptable. I hope this is urgently addressed."  

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Columnist Stephen Daisley, who has frequently criticised the SNP, added: "If No. 10 is deliberately excluding @ScotNational from press events, that is unacceptable.

"You don’t get to shut out a paper just because you don’t like its editorial line. I would expect @ScotTories to make this clear to their Downing St colleagues.

"Politicians have no business interfering in the operation of a free press. I hope the @ScotNational stands its ground and that its political opponents have the good grace and genuine commitment to free expression to stand with it. @Number10press should clarify this matter soon."

The Herald journalists David Leask and Paul Hutcheon were also showed solidarity with The National. 

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Leask tweeted: "Colleagues at @Scotnational have been denied access to the Prime Minister today. I hope @nujscotland and London colleagues can show some solidarity with our paper on this. It's not OK."

Mr Hutcheon added: "Just as I didn’t like some newspapers being banned from Alex Salmond’s last press conference as FM, I don’t like this either.
She said:

The decision to exclude The National came two weeks after the paper's political reporters were denied a chance to question May's deputy, David Lidington, as he visited Scotland.

The Cabinet Office claimed The National was not on their mailing list, although the newspaper disputes this.