The group campaigning against Kingsford Stadium created a fake spokesman to comment on the plan, the Evening Express can exclusively reveal today.
No Kingsford Stadium (NKS) has admitted “Angus Jamieson” does not exist but insists he was just a pseudonym created to combat vicious online abuse.
The group today said it has stopped using the pseudonym and, since November 2017, has only quoted real members.
The Evening Express investigation has uncovered:
- A man calling himself “Angus Jamieson” gave interviews over the phone to reporters from both the EE and our sister paper The Press and Journal;
- A Facebook profile in the name of “Angus Jamieson” was commenting and sharing NKS posts as recently as February this year;
- “Angus Jamieson” also submitted 35 Freedom of Information requests to various organisations, including Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils in order to build a case against the stadium.
The NKS pressure group – which is now a limited company – was created to fight Aberdeen FC’s plans for the £50 million stadium on the outskirts of Westhill and is currently fundraising to pay for a legal action against Aberdeen City Council, which approved the development in January.
NKS Ltd has three directors – Heather Brock, Clare Davidson and Diane Reid – and wants to prove through a Judicial Review the city council acted unlawfully by greenlighting the scheme.
All three directors have given quotes to the media, but in the early days of the group, it was “Angus Jamieson” who was identified as a “spokesman”.
The first time Angus Jamieson gave a statement to the Evening Express was on July 15, 2016, when the No Kingsford Stadium Community Action Group was launched.
Between July 2016 and March 2017, Angus was quoted in a number of articles in both the EE and P&J, on some occasions giving reporters interviews over the phone.
Diane Reid, one of the directors of No Kingsford Stadium, said: “Angus Jamieson was a pseudonym previously used by the No Kingsford Stadium campaign group in early communications.
“A pseudonym was felt necessary due to the ongoing online abuse experienced by some NKS members.
“As the campaign has progressed, to ensure transparency, the directors of the campaign are now using their own names for all official communications”
The Evening Express has not been able to establish who within the group gave an interview as “Angus”, however, we have obtained an e-mail sent to a number of people, including the three NKS directors, on August 14, 2016, which mentions the fictional spokesman speaking to the press.
The e-mail – written by Charlie Love, who, on October 17 last year, became chairman of Westhill and Elrick Community Council – says: “Angus gave an interview with the P&J today” and then outlines the quotes that “Angus” said.
The following day an article appeared in the newspaper featuring quotes from “Angus” which, while not verbatim, closely match the description by Mr Love in his e-mail.
Mr Love today declined to comment.
Heather Brock, Clare Davidson and Diane Reid said all NKS statements given since November 2017 have been made by either a spokesperson or one of the three directors.
In a joint statement they said: “We don’t have a record of which member of the group may have used the name during a phone interview.
“If this did happen, it would only have been once or maybe twice very early in the campaign.”
Asked if putting up a fake person for interviews was misleading to the public, the NKS directors’ statement continued: “This was to protect members of the group who had suffered significant abuse/attacks at the hands of an element of those in favour of the development.
“Initially, the press were unwilling to accept a comment from a ‘spokesperson’ from the group, insisting that we provide a name.”
The Evening Express has also uncovered a Facebook profile under the name of Angus Jamieson, from Skene.
Since its first post in May 2016, this Facebook “Angus” has exclusively shared anti-Kingsford Stadium articles or pictures.
The last activity on the account was on February 6 this year, when it shared an NKS post appealing for donations for the legal fight. The page was removed from Facebook yesterday – just hours after the Evening Express asked NKS about its existence.
In their joint statement the pressure group’s leaders would only say: “This Facebook profile has been deleted and is no longer in use by NKS.”
Jamieson’s name was also used to submit 35 Freedom of Information requests to organisations such as local authorities, Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland between July 21, 2016, and December 22 last year.
NKS says it was legitimate to use a pseudonym under Environment Information Regulations which state “a request made under the EIR will be valid irrespective of whether the requester provides their real name”.
Mike Forbes, a spokesman for the Westhill Yes to Kingsford group, accused the group of “double standards”.
He said: “What really gets me is the double standard claiming underhand tactics by just about everyone including the council and Stewart Milne.
“They do that yet they have tactics like this on the go. It just feels underhanded and sneaky.”
The directors today insisted “there has never been any intention to mislead” the public.
They said: “During the campaign, members have been subject to online abuse and attacks (often by people themselves using a pseudonym).
“We can confirm that the police have been involved on several occasions and individuals have been cautioned and interviewed for their online threats against members of NKS.
“There has never been any intention to mislead, only to protect those involved in the campaign. I am sure you will understand that the impact of such abuse has not been insignificant and would not be something that anyone would wish to experience.
“The leadership of the group, since the establishment of No Kingsford Stadium Limited, is shared by Diane Reid, Heather Brock and Clare Davidson supported by many members of the community against the stadium development.”