Newspaper row to be discussed at Westminster

THE growing row over the decision of Aberdeen University Students’ Association to impose its choice of editor on the student newspaper is to be raised in the House of Commons.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, and Angus Robertson, the Scottish National Party MP for Moray, are both questioning the stance being taken by the student body at their former alma mater.

They have tabled a joint motion expressing concern that the association is trying to influence the tradition of editorial independence of Gaudie.

Mr Carmichael told The Scotsman last night: "We are both graduates of Aberdeen University and believe that freedom of the press is as important in universities as it is anywhere else.

"I was on the student representative council when I was at Aberdeen and I would have been very unhappy if there had been any move to interfere with the editorial independence of Gaudie. That is not what the Students’ Association is there to do."

The row erupted earlier this week after Mark Highfield, a religious studies student, resigned as editor of Gaudie after accusing the association of unprecedented editorial interference in the newspaper, following its decision to appoint a member of the association’s executive to succeed him from the start of the next term.

Mr Highfield, 27, said yesterday that the editorial staff would be calling for a referendum of all the students at the university to decide the future of Gaudie, should the Students’ Association reject two possible compromise solutions to the dispute.

Duncan Cockburn, the president of the Students’ Association, could not be contacted for comment last night.

He has already claimed that the changes are being driven by the need to improve the quality of Gaudie and to reduce, if possible, the 40,000 annual cost of publishing the newspaper.