Media release: News Scotland is media partner for Holyrood’s Festival of Politics


NEWS Scotland – publishers of The Times Scotland and The Sunday Times Scotland – is the media partner for this year’s Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics, fielding a nine-strong team of writers during different sessions at the event, which starts today.

The festival takes place at the Scottish Parliament from Wednesday 10 October to Saturday 13 October.

The festival is an unique opportunity to debate the issues discussed with politicians, journalists, academics, commentators, poets and artists, all set within the iconic Holyrood complex.

The sessions with Times and Sunday Times writers during the four days of the festival are:

* Brexit – Armageddon or Miracle; chaired by Rachel Sylvester

* Posh or Poor; chaired by Kenny Farquharson with John Boothman on the panel

* America – A Second Term President Trump; Catherine Philp on the panel

* Environmental Migration; Ben Webster on the panel

* Future of Public Broadcasting Service; Andrew Billen on the panel

* Suspicious Minds; Magnus Linklater on the panel

* What Does Gender Equality Look Like? Melanie Reid on the panel

* The NHS at 70 – Unsustainable? Helen Puttick on the panel

Welcoming the strong presence at the Festival of writers from The Times and The Sunday Times, from north and south of the border, Richard Bogie – managing director of News Scotland – said: “This is an excellent Festival of Politics programme, and I am delighted that we are fielding such a strong team of writers from The Times and The Sunday Times during the four days. Investing in journalism is central to the success of News Scotland titles, ensuring that our readers are well-informed about the major issues happening across Scotland, the UK and wider world. I look forward to our writers bringing their substantial expertise to bear throughout this year’s Festival.”


Issued on behalf of News Scotland by Charlotte Street Partners. For further information, please call Stuart Taylor or Kevin Pringle at Charlotte Street Partners on 0131 516 5310

Notes for editors:

Biographies of The Times and The Sunday Times writers appearing at the festival are:

Rachel Sylvester

Political columnist at The Times. She started writing about politics in 1996 and was a lobby correspondent on The Telegraph before becoming political editor of The Independent on Sunday. She joined The Times in 2008.

Kenny Farquharson

Columnist and senior writer for The Times Scotland. Kenny was formerly deputy editor of The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday. One of Scotland’s most experienced political journalists, he was the first convener of the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association. He writes the Notebook column in The Times every Tuesday and his weekly political column appears on Wednesday.

John Boothman

John is one of Scotland’s most experienced journalists and programme makers. In a career spanning more than 30 years, he has edited everything from documentaries to daily news programmes, as well as coverage of party conferences and many other political programmes. Formerly head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland, he was the editorial lead and senior manager of the largest news operation in Scotland. He joined The Sunday Times in August 2016 as Scottish Political Correspondent.

Catherine Philp

Diplomatic correspondent at The Times since 2008. Catherine was previously foreign correspondent. She has specialised in conflict, with ten years spent based overseas, covering wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Cambodia, Indonesia, Darfur, Congo and Zimbabwe.

Ben Webster

Environment editor at The Times since 2009, apart from when he was media editor from 2011 to 2013. Previously he spent nine years as transport correspondent and was twice voted transport correspondent of the year, in 2004 and 2009. He also won the inaugural award for journalism on the environmental impact of aviation presented by the Parliamentary Sustainable Aviation Group.

Andrew Billen

Chief TV critic for The Times and a feature writer. He first worked for The Times in the 1980s, latterly as its arts correspondent. He then moved to work first on The Observer and then the London Evening Standard. He returned to The Times in 2002 to write a weekly feature, the Andrew Billen Interview for Times 2. In his spare time, he wrote TV reviews for the New Statesman for ten years and is now its theatre critic.

Magnus Linklater

Columnist and former editor of The Times Scotland. Magnus began his career in journalism as a reporter with the Daily Express in London before taking on roles at the London Evening Standard, The Sunday Times and The Observer. He returned to Scotland in 1988 to take up the role of editor at The Scotsman, a position he held until 1994 when he became a freelance writer and columnist for The Times. From 2007 until 2012, he was Scottish Editor of The Times, since when he has been a regular contributor.

Melanie Reid

Melanie was an award-winning columnist at The Herald in Glasgow before reporting and commentating for The Times from Scotland and then on the Comment pages. Having broken her neck and back in a riding accident in 2010, she writes her Spinal Column in Magazine every week.

Helen Puttick

Health Reporter, The Times Scotland. Helen is an experienced healthcare journalist, having covered it for more than ten years. Joining The Herald as health correspondents in 2006, she covered health for the paper, until joining The Times in November 2016. Helen has a wide remit, including everything from care of the elderly to medical and scientific research, and the successes and failings of the NHS.

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