Media Freedom

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 12 September 2019.

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Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

4. To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to support the freedom of the media. (S5O-03518)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

A free, independent and strong press is the bedrock of a well-functioning democracy. The Scottish Government is committed to doing what we can to ensure that it is maintained. That includes modernising the law of defamation, as well as considering the recommendations made in the Cairncross review of the future sustainability of journalism, and ensuring that freedom of the media remains at the heart of our considerations.

Photo of Monica Lennon Monica Lennon Labour

Recently, the Scottish Prison Service and Scottish ministers raised an interdict against the

Sunday Mail

, which has brought up issues concerning freedom of the press in Scotland. Can the cabinet secretary advise whether Scottish ministers have the power to veto such actions, and if so, can she advise why that power was not exercised by ministers in relation to an attempt to stop the newspaper reporting details of Allan Marshall’s death in custody?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

Clearly, our condolences remain with the family and friends of Allan Marshall. The issue that the member is addressing was discussed extensively at last week’s First Minister’s question time, which she attended. I am aware that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice wrote to the Justice Committee on 30 August, and I refer to his update to Parliament on 3 September. I reiterate the issues at the heart of that matter, which are that the Scottish Prison Service, acting as employer—like any employer—can take the action that that it did. The other issues have been fully reflected in the correspondence from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to the relevant committee.