Result of AFFG v Evening Times Press Complaint

Alistair McConnachie on our Thin Red Line, Glasgow 11-1-20

Many people are outraged at the extent to which the Scottish Nationalists deliberately lie about the numbers which appear on their marches.

It is a fact that without A Force For Good diligently attending these events, standing up for the United Kingdom, and filming and counting the marchers, then the truth would never be known, and complete lies would be written into history, and the truth would be completely unavailable.

Unfortunately, here in Scotland, we also face a mainstream media which seems to have given up on trying to report, much less find, the truth!

Back on 11 January this year, the nationalist group "All Under One Banner" held a march through Glasgow. AFFG was there, and we filmed and counted them at 10,156, passing in 84 minutes. You can see our video evidence here.

Of course, the SNP-supporting march organisers pretended there was 80,000 people. This figure was reported without challenge in several newspapers and on the television.

For example, Ian Blackford SNP MP repeated the "80,000" lie on BBC 2's Daily Politics (14-1-20) without being questioned on it by the presenter, Jo Coburn.

When we opened the Glasgow Evening Times on Monday 13 January and saw another hugely misleading headline, we decided to do something about it.


The IPSO has an Editor's Code which attempts to hold newspapers to certain standards. The IPSO 'Editor's Code of Practice' is here.

We believe the headline breached the guidelines and we decided to make a formal complaint.

The IPSO recommends that a complainant first attempt to settle a dispute with the Editor before approaching their organisation. So we wrote to the Editor of the Evening Times (who is also the Editor of The National ) on 15 January.

We pointed out that his figure of 80,000 was a significant inaccuracy, misleading and a distortion of the facts. We asked for his opinion of our correct point of view because we were minded to contact the IPSO.

We also published the letter on our Facebook Page on 16 January here.

We gave it to 15 February, one month later, to hear back from him...

But answer came there none!

So we wrote to him a second time. We waited another month, and by 17 March, having given the Editor two chances to respond, we finally wrote our formal complaint to the IPSO.

Glasgow Evening Times 13-2-20 - the sub-heading is the object of our complaint


We stated that the article above, published in the Glasgow Evening Times, dated Monday 13th January 2020, p.4 (with pics on p.5), headlined "HUGE MARCH FOR INDYREF2 VOTE", with the sub-heading "Row over referendum rolls on as politicians join 80,000 on march" was in contradiction of the IPSO Editor's Code, specifically Clause 1 (Accuracy), particularly paragraphs i and iv, which state:

1. Accuracy

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

It was our contention that this headline, which mentions the figure 80,000 (without quotes), was a significant inaccuracy, misleading and a distortion of the facts – given that A Force For Good counted 10,156 marchers, and given that the Evening Times would be in possession of such knowledge at the time of publication.

Furthermore, we emphasised that we have a stake in this matter!

As Scotland's foremost campaigning unionist organisation, our figures should not be ignored. For example, here are the figures we have counted so far:

Inverness 25-1-20: Scottish nationalists said 10K: Actual 2,892

Glasgow 11-1-20: AUOB said 80K: Actual 10,156

Edinburgh 5-10-19: AUOB said 200-250K: Actual 11,286

Perth 7-9-19: AUOB said 20K: Actual 3,160

Aberdeen 17-8-19: AUOB said 12K: Actual 2,563

Campbeltown 27-7-19: AUOB said 2K: Actual 974

Ayr 6-7-19: AUOB said 13K: Actual 2,762

Oban 15-6-19: AUOB said 7K: Actual 1,757

Galashiels 1-6-19: AUOB said 5K: Actual 2,122

Glasgow 4-5-19: AUOB said 100K: Actual 8,796

Edinburgh 6-10-18: AUOB said 100K: Actual 12,789

Dundee 18-8-18: AUOB said 16K: Actual 3,538

Inverness 28-7-18: AUOB said 14K: Actual 3,386

In this case, there was plenty of time for the Evening Times to know our accurate figure. We had published our evidence on the evening of the march on this page of our Website. And we immediately spread the figure and the link widely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram from 10.40pm. For example, our Tweet below which was sent at 10.48pm on 11 January rapidly picked up 404 ReTweets and 85,000 Impressions.

Our Tweet of 11-1-20 got massive social media traction

This was plenty of time for the Glasgow Evening Times (and indeed all the Scottish media) to spot this and to know the alternative figure being promoted by the unionist side of the argument!

In our formal complaint, we summarised our case thusly:

We Contend