This is such a strange story.
Because even though it’s part of a transparent attempt from the Record to deflect attention from the many shocking revelations of the last few days around the Salmond affair, it’s still unusual that a newspaper would make a front-page lead out of a claim it knows it can’t provide a single scrap of evidence for.
Did they, aye? And how do we know that? Clearly the Record can’t print the offending tweet, even in heavily redacted form, because if they show ANY of it people could then go and search that text, find the tweet and discover who the woman is.
But since it can’t, we have no evidence whatsoever that the tweet exists. The story is a complete phantom, which is an odd thing to make a page 1 main splash out of.
Because even if a tweet had indeed named someone as supposedly being one of the accusers, who’s to say that it was true? Twitter, we know, is basically people posting total made-up nonsense every day, with no reason for anyone to believe them.
All the Record is in fact achieving here is (1) telling people there’s a tweet out there identifying one of the accusers, (2) telling them that the tweet is actually true, and (3) telling them that it’s going to stay there because Twitter won’t delete it.
Plainly, that can only possibly increase the risk to the woman involved that other people will find the tweet and retweet it or repeat it, having already been told that it doesn’t breach Twitter’s terms and conditions.
(It would still break the law, of course, but only in the UK. Anyone living abroad with a Twitter account can say whatever they like about the case, as they’re not subject to Lady Dorrian’s anonymity order. And even in the UK it’s pretty hard to trace the owners of a random Twitter account in any event unless they put their real name on it.)
At the very best, then, it’s monstrously irresponsible journalism, hugely increasing the potential audience for a tweet that may only ever have been seen by a dozen people and endangering this woman’s anonymity needlessly to sell a few papers (ironically, by salaciously implying that if people read the story they might find out who she is).
There may of course be a second motivation. The Record may very well be hoping that people manage to track the tweet down, in order that some of them can be caught and prosecuted, so that the paper will have another juicy squirrel with which to distract from the real story – the increasingly obvious conspiracy against Salmond, in which the Record itself, the original leaker of the false allegations, is heavily implicated.
(That would be a very stupid motivation, since if it happened the Record itself might be found guilty of contempt of court for its part in identifying the woman by confirming the veracity of the tweet, but these are pretty stupid people.)
But yet again, the people who supposedly need protection (despite still currently being totally anonymous) are the ones being thrown under the bus by Salmond’s enemies for their own ends. Every time we think the whole fiasco can’t possibly get any grubbier or sleazier, Scotland’s media and political establishment proves us wrong.
NB – This shouldn’t need said, but if any reader should find the tweet, DO NOT post, quote or link to it in the comments below. It’ll be deleted the moment we see it and you’ll make yourself liable to prosecution and possible imprisonment. If requested, Wings will assist the police with any identifying data attached to your comment.