And so it began. Like a pack of hungry wolves vying for the choicest cuts of the prey they lined up according to pack hierarchy. On offer was the kind of succulent dish guaranteed to have the Rangers Antagonistas (a particular brand of NUJ card waving individual who appear to believe that aforementioned card is the real life equivalent of Monopoly’s Get Out of Jail Free Card) licking their lips in culinary anticipation, perhaps even salivating, at the mouth-watering prospect of a meal where Rangers were the main course. Rangers were the “bully boys” of course whose conduct was “intimidating” thus suppressing (even endangering apparently) freedom of speech in Scotland as well as undermining journalistic standards. Phew! – That’s some litany of charges.
The truth of course was completely different. Graham Spiers, and not for the first time, had written an article for which was particularly damaging in respect of Rangers and their board in particular. The publishing of this article in the Herald proved to be the catalyst for Rangers to make a complaint to the Herald’s editor, Magnus Llewellin.
Contrary to many of the accusations being made Rangers did not threaten legal action, merely asked for evidence of the claims – but we should all be familiar with the routine by now – let’s not let facts or the truth get in the way of a succulent serving of Rangers bashing.
But worse was to come for Llewellin as he investigated the circumstances surrounding the Rangers complaint as the subsequent investigation revealed significant staffing errors at the Herald. The newspaper was left in a position where the Spiers article would be indefensible in court and the newspaper subsequently published a retraction and apology for the article.
You could be forgiven at this point for thinking that procedural staffing errors as well as sloppy and sub-standard journalism would have been a lesson for the learning for most, but this is Spiers we are talking about, and we all know by now that hell hath no fury like Graham Spiers scorned.
Without a care for the potentially precarious legal position he had placed his newspaper in or the job security of his colleagues at the newspaper, Spiers then embarked on a journey of no return by publishing a blog on the internet defending his action and further undermining his own editor. It’s all about Graham Spiers. He clearly knew this action would have terminal consequences acknowledging same via a tweet.
Of course the jungle drums were quickly beating and it wasn’t long before the Cavalry arrived in the form of the NUJ, with general secretary Michelle Stanistreet stating: “It is outrageous that commercial meddling has led the Herald to sack a respected columnist”
Perhaps Ms Stanistreet would care to elaborate to the rest of us the “commercial meddling” which was involved. We await with bated breath.
But the chaos machine which is Spiers` ego was now in full overdrive. Appearing on BBC Scotland’s “Off the Ball” programme on Saturday 13th February 2016, Spiers repeated the assertions he had made in his Herald article, prompting presenter Stuart Cosgrove to release the following statement on behalf of BBC Scotland.
“Earlier in the programme Graham Spiers made comments about a newspaper story he wrote about Rangers. The BBC would like to make clear those views are not endorsed by the BBC”
Spiers then proceeded to confirm that the hole he had been digging for himself had almost reached Australia.
This is the same Graham Spiers who reported that Aberdeen fans were singing ‘Nice one Jimmy” at Ibrox when a whole host of his fellow pundits condemned them for what they were actually singing.
It is also the same Graham Spiers who wrote about “thousands of Rangers fans racially abusing Bobo Balde” a statement he was later forced to retract under challenge.
The same Graham Spiers who wrote poisonous articles on Rangers legends Jock Wallace and Davie Cooper, following their deaths.
The same Graham Spiers who waxed lyrical about Fiorentina’s “long and illustrious European history” but was happy to peddle the Rangers are a new club nonsense. Seems what is good for the Italian goose is not good for the Scottish gander.
And finally it is the same Graham Spiers who humiliated himself on national television when challenged by Chris Graham, and whose lies that night almost caused a twitter meltdown as screenshots of his actual comments were posted.
It may well be true that journalistic standards in Scotland are under serious threat, but the clear and present danger it faces does not come from anyone inside or connected to Rangers Football Club. The journalistic community should look a lot closer to home to find those responsible for endangering their profession.