No market for Scots inaction

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PLANS FOR a World in Action programme exploring alleged anti- English feeling in Scotland were scrapped yesterday because the producers did not find enough evidence of the problem to support it.

But the Scottish National Party is still determined to take the producers to the Independent Television Commission, claiming that World in Action behaved like "agents provocateurs" by seeking to hire actors to pose as English visitors in an attempt to test public reaction in Scottish streets.

Mike Russell, chief executive of the SNP, said: "We had a tip-off from a theatrical agent who had been approached by Granada who wanted to hire actors to go round with a hidden camera and hunt out anti-Englishness.

"If they had bothered to talk to me or the SNP before they started the research, they would have got the facts rather than smear claims.

"I am delighted good sense prevailed in this case, but I still feel the programme-makers acted in breach of the code and I think it should be brought before the ITC."

A World in Action spokesman said that while an agent had been approached about hiring actors, no further action was taken. He also denied that hidden cameras had been used. "We did get a member of the production team to wear an England rugby shirt," he added. "There had been reports of a case where a guy in an England shirt had been racially abused and therefore we were attempting to research reactions in the street to English symbols. He didn't get any reaction whatsoever."

The failure to unearth any meaningful anti-English sentiment prompted Granada to abandon the project.

"We started the investigation after reports of problems with anti-Englishness, including comments made by the Scottish Tourist Board chairman and the problems the family of Leah Betts faced when they moved to Scotland," the spokesman explained.

"We have been carrying out research for some time now and we have reached the conclusion that there is not that much of a problem. There is no point in going ahead with a programme."

The SNP, which said that 2 out of 93 cases handled last year by the Commission for Racial Equality in Scotland involved alleged anti-Englishness, is nevertheless determined to press its grievances with the commission.

However, a commission spokeswoman said the watchdog could not get involved unless a programme appeared on screen.