By Suzanne Kelly.
Aberdeen’s Evening Express’ long-serving columnist Frank Gilfeather was defenestrated after his opinion column on nightclub spiking attacks made on women sparked outrage.
An 18-year-old student in Aberdeen believed she had been spiked with a needle in an Aberdeen club, and Police Scotland were investigating.
Gilfeather, a retired boxer whose strapline was ‘The column that packs a punch’, took exception to a proposed Thursday night boycott of clubs for a girls’ night in protest and a petition to search clubbers.
In a column filled with misogynist mockery, he wrote:
“…surely it is the responsibility of the individual to keep themselves safe?”
While such incidents have been reported across the UK, Frank dismissed data on such attacks as being ‘sketchy at best’ concluding women suggesting full body and bag checks don’t ‘live in the real world.’
Unsurprisingly there was anger on social media.
The 23 October issue of the paper carried a full-page apology for Gilfeather’s column in lieu of its normal letters section. In ‘Frank Gilfeather’s column – apology’ editor Craig Walker announced Frank’s departure as the ex-pugilist refused to renounce his position. Walker declared:
“We are deeply sorry that our usually stringent editorial processes – the same processes which meant the column was not published on our website failed in the case of the printed edition.”
“We pride ourselves on the quality of the journalism we publish…”
and on being
“… a trusted and constructive part of public debate.”
Readers with long memories were unconvinced. Former EE editor Damian Bates’ contributions to public debate and quality journalism included numerous puff pieces for Donald Trump while omitting that his wife Sarah Malone was the tycoon’s employee.
In 2007 the tabloid carried the headline ‘You traitors – fury as councillors kick out Trump’s £1bn golf plan’ with the faces of Aberdeenshire councillors who dared to vote down Trump’s initial golf resort plans.
The Evening Excess may have apologised for publishing Gilfeather, but it has never owned up to its persecution of these councillors, years of duping readers about the Bates/Malone connection or freezing protest group Tripping Up Trump out of the public debate Walker claims the paper values.
Such was the outrage over the spiking portion of his column that its other content was overlooked. Opining on the ‘let’s find something to offend us crowd’ Gilfeather was apoplectic over news that the National Theatre of Scotland had banned the word ‘spooky’, Writing:
“… but best impose a ban – just in case. Don’t you just love the flakiness of it all?”
Alas, the NTS had confirmed the story was untrue as per the Scottish Sun on 21 October, the same day Gilfeather was published.
Perhaps the EE’s stringent editorial policies and fact-checking still have a way to go?
‘Flakiness’ is the word for it.