Rangers fans’ abuse: BBC and NUJ back Jim Spence

Jim Spence was the victim of abuse after the reference to Rangers board changes. Picture: Getty
Jim Spence was the victim of abuse after the reference to Rangers board changes. Picture: Getty
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The BBC and the National Union of Journalists has backed BBC Scotland presenter Jim Spence after he was the victim of online abuse by Rangers fans for making a reference to the ‘Oldco’ club.

Mr Spence found himself on the receiving end of abusive tweets and emails after he spoke of the current board changes at Ibrox.

He said: “John McLelland, who was chairman of the old club . . . some people will tell you the club . . . well the club that died, possibly coming back in terms of the new chairman.”

The BBC is said to have received over 400 complaints, and it has been rumoured that the veteran reporter had even considered voluntary redundancy over the issue.

The presenter met with management at BBC Scotland this week where he was given their backing and measures were discussed to combat future abuse directed at Mr Spence.

Paul Holleran, NUJ organiser for Scotland, said: “The BBC has offered its total support to Jim. We do not condone the vile and disgusting emails and texts that he has received and find it totally unacceptable that a journalist has been treated in this way.”

BBC Scotland says it does not comment on individual staff affairs.

A statement released by Rangers on Friday said the club club had been inundated with complaints from supporters.

It read: “On Wednesday night (September 4) one of their presenters referred to Rangers as ‘the old club.’ He also said ‘the club that died.’

“The presenter stated this even though the BBC Trust had ruled in June that BBC Scotland had breached its guidelines with the use of the terms ‘new’ and ‘old’ when reporting on Rangers.

“The Trust upheld two complaints that the BBC were wrong to use ‘new’ in relation to our Club but it appears BBC Scotland are determined to continue to ignore a clear ruling of its own Trust.

“The part of the programme in which the presenter made his remarks was edited out of the podcast of Wednesday evening’s programme, presumably because the BBC realised the presenter had gone against the guidelines. However, there has been no attempt to issue an apology and the Club shares our supporters’ view that the remarks were both unacceptable and ill-advised.

“Rangers’ lawyers have been instructed to write to the BBC Trust highlighting this latest breach of BBC guidelines and BBC Radio Scotland’s apparent unwillingness to observe the Trust’s ruling. They will also seek confirmation of what steps will be taken by the BBC, particularly in relation to the BBC Scotland’s journalists, to ensure these breaches stop.”