Janey Godley: Hurtful tweets were 'completely unacceptable' says Nicola Sturgeon but apology was 'dignified'
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the offensive tweets which have come to light from Janey Godley are “completely unacceptable” – but feels she apologised with “dignity” and accepted responsibility for the remarks.
Ms Godley was fronting the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 health campaign and was reportedly paid £12,000 for the TV adverts which were running online under the hashtag #Stopthespike amid rising coronavirus rates.
It is understood that the advert has been dropped from the campaign after the US news website the Daily Beast and the Scottish Sun reported Ms Godley made offensive remarks about black American celebrities including Destiny’s Child star Kelly Rowland, and rappers 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg'.
This prompted a statement from Ms Godley on Twitter saying: “I deserve all the criticism that comes my way.” She also said that as an “outspoken comedian” she felt like she could get away with saying anything but that she was “completely wrong”.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon said that the most important thing to her during the coronavirus pandemic is the “integrity” of the public health message and that she would never defend the tweets which were “completely unacceptable”.
She said: “These things happen, the important thing is that action has been taken, Janey has apologised, I think she’s been pretty straightforward and dignified in her apology.
"She’s a comedian, as she said herself she thought that gave her license to say things that she now accepts were completely out of order and unacceptable.
"So the important thing for me given that we’re still in this pandemic is to make sure that our public health messages are heard loudly and clearly.”
Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay said: “It’s jaw-dropping to hear a First Minister of Scotland dismiss racist tweets so casually.
“You would expect Nicola Sturgeon to be appalled by this kind of language but when asked about it, her flippant response was ‘these things happen’.
“It’s starting to look like nationalist and SNP supporters get special treatment from this government. This contract should never have been awarded in the first place and the First Minister should be a lot more contrite now that these shameful tweets have emerged.
“There is a dark side to nationalism that means people, apparently including the First Minister judging by this appearance, will make excuses for wrongdoing.
“The SNP should be apologising for wasting public money and choosing someone so inappropriate to front up a public health campaign.”
Later in the interview the First Minister explained exactly what she meant when she outlined in the programme for government earlier this week that a second independence referendum would be held in 2023 “Covid-19 permitting”.
She responded: “[It means] that we’re not in the teeth of a Covid-19 crisis as I would consider we are right now with cases still putting pressure on our National Health Service and still rising."
Asked why a Scottish Government election was safe earlier this year, but an independence referendum holds the caveat of being “Covid-19 permitting” she said: "It is not up to me whether elections happen.
“But it’s not about the safety of polling stations, it’s about people having the ability to properly focus on and consider a big decision about whether or not Scotland should become independent.”