Julie Burchill drops Edinburgh-based publisher after it is linked to far right group
A small Edinburgh publisher which acquired the rights to Julie Burchill’s controversial new book the Woke Trials has faced a furious backlash from authors and resigned from an industry body after its director was linked to a far right group.
Stirling Publishing faced criticism after it picked up Burchill's book this week which had been dropped by publisher Little, Brown over the journalist’s comments on Islam.
In the wake of the announcement, information began circulating online about Tabatha Stirling, the firm’s sole director. She was said to have been 'outed' by the Glasgow Anti-Fascist Alliance as being a member of the far right Patriotic Alternative.
Burchill has now said she would be dropping the publisher after the link came to light.
Ms Stirling's identity was revealed after some members of the group apparently accused her of being an infiltrator. During 2020, she is said to have blogged and made YouTube videos under the name Miss Brittania and can be heard identifying herself with her real name on a streamed discussion with other members of Patriotic Alternative. Miss Brittania used a pink Union Jack for her logo with the slogan "Always on the White side."
In a statement, industry body Publishing Scotland said: "Following on from recent reports in the media that a Publishing Scotland member publisher, Stirling Publishing, had taken on a particular book rejected by another publishing company, there were concerns expressed about their publishing ethos and values.
"The Publishing Scotland board and staff have taken the view that the values of that particular publishing company have no place within our organisation. We contacted the company and they have agreed to tender their resignation with immediate effect.”
Stirling Publishing was founded in 2017 and and one of its first acquisitions was The Colour of Madness, an anthology about mental health in the BAME community.
Its authors Rianna Walcott and Samara Linton tweeted distancing themselves from both Ms Stirling and Stirling Publishing.
The Twitter account for the Colour of Madness, said: "In 2018, we published The Colour of Madness: Exploring BAME Mental Health in the UK with Stirling Publishing. We have come across some information which means we can no longer associate ourselves with the publishing company nor its director Tabatha Stirling.
"We will refrain from commenting further until we have had legal advice, but we are deeply hurt and shocked by the circulating information, and are determined to do right by our contributors, our supporters, and our community. Thank you for your understanding and support."
Ms Walcott said attempts to communicate with Ms Stirling since they discovered her alleged views have been fruitless, but added “we want her to stop publishing our book. She should not be allowed to profit from our work.”
Burchill, who this week agreed to pay substantial damages to the activist and journalist Ash Sarkar after a series of defamatory social media posts, had originally described her new publisher as “just like me” in a Facebook post. All connections to Stirling Publishing have since been removed. Burchill’s agent, Matthew Hamilton, said that “neither of us were aware of [Ms Stirling’s behaviour] before signing”.
Burchill was quoted telling the Guardian: “I have always been against racism in all forms, so am terminating my contract with Stirling Publishing with immediate effect."
Ms Stirling, whose husband Paul ran for Edinburgh Council in 2018 on behalf of the For Britain party, would not comment on the claims when contacted.
The website of Stirling Publishing has been taken down and its Twitter account made private.