Sunday Herald Issues Apology

The Sunday Herald yesterday devoted an entire page to an apology over the controversial use of the phrase, ‘bead-rattling’, in a sports article on Celtic FC manager, Gordon Strachan.

The apology – reported also in comment accompanying a story in Spike last week (here) – comprised a by-lined piece by sports editor, Stephen Penman. He confirmed that the
writer, Kenny Hodgart, would no longer write his ‘Leftfield’ column for the newspaper, and pointed out: “I have also instigated an investigation to discover how this unacceptable terminology was able to get through our production system.”

The newspaper also carried eight letters from readers on the issue – some threatening to stop buying the paper unless action was taken and an apology carried. The letter writers included Celtic FC chief executive, Peter Lawwell; Marie McCusker, acting secretary of the Celtic Trust; and Roddy McNulty, campaign director, Football For All.

Penman’s apology read in full: “In an article headlined ‘Fans Fail to Show Celtic Class with Strachan Slating’ for last week’s Sunday Herald, Kenny Hodgart used the following sentence: ‘Some fans would probably rather have a bead-rattling Hoopy the Huddle Hound in the dug-out.’

“The use of the term ‘bead-rattling’ is clearly unacceptable in a quality newspaper. Indeed, it is clearly unacceptable in any context and in any walk of life.

“The Sunday Herald’s stance on bigotry and sectarianism is clear: as a newspaper we have consistently and systematically challenged prejudice wherever we have found it. We have written dozens of articles – in the sports section, in the news section, in opinion and debate and in the magazine – condemning those who continue to perpetuate sectarianism and praising the considerable efforts of both Celtic FC and Rangers FC, among others, to stamp it out.

“Religious bigotry continues, however, to be a blot on the landscape of Scottish football and also in wider society. There has been huge progress in recent years, but there is still more to be done before we can consider ourselves a truly united society.

“Kenny Hodgart will no longer write a column for the Sunday Herald. I have also instigated an investigation to discover how this unacceptable terminology was able to get through our production system.

“The Sunday Herald would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by the use of this phrase and assure our readers that we are treating this matter extremely seriously.

* Send your Scottish media news and gossip, in the strictest confidence, to