Stunned Edinburgh University lecturer reported to police for quoting Trainspotting

A tutor responsible for attracting students from different backgrounds to Edinburgh University found himself accused of a hate crime – after quoting Trainspotting.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 8:05 am
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 8:07 am
Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting. Picture: TSPL
Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting. Picture: TSPL

Film and philosophy lecturer James Mooney quoted a famous scene from cult classic movie Trainspotting which includes an insult to the English.

Police confirmed officers were called in to investigate his Instagram post after a complaint about his social media post but concluded that no crime had been committed.

Mr Mooney is understood to have written the post while showing the 1996 film, starring Ewan McGregor, to a visiting delegation from the US.

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Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting. Picture: TSPL

He wrote: “Spent this morning telling a group of visiting American students that we don’t *really* hate the English, but that they *are* w*****s. Welcome to Scotland.”

The post relates to a scene in which McGregor’s character, Mark Renton, bemoans Scotland’s misfortune at being “colonised by the English”.

One university source said: “It was clearly meant in jest and no offence was intended or could reasonably have been taken. It is all totally ridiculous, a storm in a teacup if ever there was one.”

The Evening News understands the post was later edited and privacy settings on the account updated.

James Mooney

Mr Mooney lectures in film and philosophy at Edinburgh University – while regularly guest lecturing at Sweden’s Jönköping University and Arcadia University in the US.

In December 2017, he was also appointed access and outreach development director at the university’s Centre for Open Learning.

The university launched a new part-time access programme the following month, as a “commitment to widening participation.”

Mr Mooney was quoted at the time as saying: “As a former access student myself, I know first-hand the potentially life-changing benefits that university can bring, as well as the challenges of returning to study after a long gap.

Mr Mooney's Instagram post

“The Access Programme is all about creating opportunities for people who have always wanted to go to university, no matter what their background.”

A Police Scotland spokesman confirmed officers received a report last month of “xenophobic comments made online” in relation to Mr Mooney’s Instagram post.

The spokesman added: “A full investigation was conducted and it was established that no crime had been committed. However, the matter was recorded as a hate incident.

“No further police action was required.”

Mr Mooney was unavailable for comment yesterday while an Edinburgh University spokesman said they had nothing to add to the comment issued by police.

The post is understood to have been reviewed by senior staff and deemed not to breach the university’s social media policy.