The Student editors vandalise own paper after lawsuit threat from Socialist Worker Party
Let’s hope they recycle
Noticed the lack of Edinburgh’s most relevant, high-culture magazine on campus this week?
That’s because it’s being manually ripped up by the same team that slaved away to produce it. Oh dear.
The Student had published an article about the motion put through EUSA to get the Socialist Workers Party off campus. The SWP came under fire last year from unions around the country for the mishandling of accusations of rape made against a senior member.
The motion was due to be discussed at Thursday’s Student Council, but EUSA was threatened with legal action by the SWP who claimed the motion to be “defaming”. It was then removed from the agenda.
But the poor editors over at The Student were already going to press with the issue.
Now they could be liable for any legal costs if the SWP choose to push forward with a lawsuit. Their solution was to pick up every single copy of their own paper around campus and rip out the front page which the article was printed on.
The Student said on their Facebook page: “This weekend we produced an edition of The Student, which would have been released on Tuesday October 21. The newspaper was due to conain an article about a motion entitled “Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) Off Campus”, which was going to be heard at Thursday’s Student Council.
“The motion has since been removed from the Student Council’s agenda; the SWP have argued that the motion was defaming. To publish the paper with this article, given these claims, would now put The Student at severe risk of legal action from the SQP, since the motion is no longer going to be read.
“In the event of any legal action, The Student’s editors would be liable for any and all damages and legal costs. When we sent the paper to the printers, this motion was still due to be read, and thus, we were reporting on the contents of a public meeting.
“The Student’s editors have removed the pafe [sic] containing the article from each paper manually. We will be distributing the papers around campus as normal with the article in concern removed.”
Comment Editor Emilia Bona took a more angry stance on the situation: “If you’re looking to pick up a copy of The Student this week and wondering why the front page is missing, the answer is that we have been threatened with legal action by the SWP.
“This week an article was due to be published covering a motion put forward by EUSA to get the SWP off campus. EUSA has since been threatened with legal action by the SWP, and the motion has been withdrawn.
“We at The Student received no prior warning of this before publication, and have therefore been forced to manually remove the front pages from every single issue of this week’s paper.
“The SWP are a disgraceful organisation and I am ashamed to be represented by a students union that bows down to their threats.
“Pick up a copy of the paper around campus this week and take a look at the incredible work our writers and editors put in every single week in producing it. I’m proud of what we produce, of the standards we uphold, and of every individual who has worked to ensure that we were distributed this week despite the circumstances. Fuck the SWP, long live The Student.”
But EUSA maintain they didn’t bend over backwards, and students can continue to propose bans on organisations: “EUSA received an email on 21st October from the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) suggesting that a motion submitted to Student Council for 23rd October and an associated article in The Student were libellous.
“The email threatened legal action if the motion and article were not withdrawn. The Student had already gone to print at this time.
“The Student asked EUSA for advice and we recommended that they exercise caution. EUSA removed the motion relating to SWP from the 23rd October Student Council agenda as a precaution, being unwilling to expose the motion’s proposers to possible legal action.
“However, EUSA affirms the right of its members to seek to ban any organisation from conducting activities on EUSA premises.”
SWP National Secretary Charlie Kimber said: “The motion – and the article in The Student – were wholly inaccurate and, I believe, contained defamatory statements about readily-identifiable individuals.
“I fully accept the right to freedom of expression in any organisation to air matters of public interest. Socialists are for open discussion and debate. However, that right carries with it various responsibilities.
“Many of the matters to be discussed in the motion and featured in The Student were so fundamentally wrongly stated that they could never amount to responsible discussion or journalism. The SWP is not prepared to have vile and baseless accusations – including claims of possible criminal wrongdoing by me and others – made about its members without response.
“We did not commence legal proceedings against EUSA or The Student, but we did reserve the right to do so. And in similar circumstances we may do so again.”