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Founding editor of award-winning paper sacked in freedom of speech row

Brian Wilson, the former Labour minister, dismissed from the paper he set up for defending a fellow columnist’s right to freedom of expression

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson founded the West Highland Free Press in 1972 with four others Photo: Photoshot

In a plot line worthy of Scoop, Evelyn Waugh’s satire on journalism, the founding editor of an award-winning Highland paper has been sacked over his defence of freedom of speech.

Brian Wilson, the former Labour MP, has written for the West Highland Free Press for 38 of its 43 years, since founding it with four others in 1972.

The only gap in contributions came when he was a minister in Tony Blair’s government.

He was dismissed for using his weekly column to defend his friend and fellow columnist, the Free Church of Scotland theologian Prof Donald Macleod, after he wrote about the spread of Islam in the UK.

With 62 years of contributions between them, readers could have been forgiven for thinking they were in with the bricks at the paper’s headquqarters in Broadford on the Isle of Skye.

But in a newspaper sacking possibly without precedent, the weekly paper chose to publish both offending columns before getting rid of both contributors.

The very Highland stramash prompted outrage and incredulity on Twitter, with a baffled Gary Robertson, the BBC Radio Scotland presenter, asking: “Did they sub and publish the column?”

More here.

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