MEP has word to save iconic city dictionary

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A BID has been launched to give Edinburgh's Chambers Dictionary the same special protection as Arbroath smokies and Gorgonzola cheese.

Euro MP David Martin claims the famous dictionary is an iconic brand so closely identified with the Capital that it should not be allowed to leave the city.

He is to ask the European Union to give it protected geographical status.

If agreed, it would mean Chambers Dictionary could not be produced anywhere other than Edinburgh – and would block the plan by publishing company Hachette UK to move it to London.

The company announced last month that it intended to close the Chambers Harrap headquarters in Hopetoun Crescent with the loss of all 27 jobs.

But union leaders and politicians are pressing Hachette to consider other options which would save the jobs and preserve the publisher's historic links with Edinburgh.

Chambers was established in 1819 by brothers William and Robert Chambers, who published their first dictionary in 1867. Chambers Street in Edinburgh is named after younger brother William, who served twice as the city's Lord Provost.

Mr Martin has written to the company, arguing the case for the operation to stay in the Capital.

He said: "I feel Chambers is a part of Edinburgh and Scotland's culture. It would, I feel, be counterproductive to move this viable operation out of Scotland, especially in the Year of Homecoming.

"Edinburgh is also the first Unesco City of Literature. We have a great affinity with words and deserve our own locally-produced dictionary."

He said he was writing to Odile Quintin, the European Commission's director general for education, training, culture and youth. He added: "I also intend to raise, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the possibility of the Chambers Dictionary being given the European Union Protection of Geographical Indication of Origin, which would mean that it could not be produced elsewhere."

Liam Rodger, the National Union of Journalists representative at the Chambers Harrap office, said:

"In theory, you can publish a dictionary anywhere, but the editors who do publish it are here and they are the ones who are threatened with being out on the street.

"Where the expertise would come from if it moved to London is not entirely clear."