Was JK Rowling Twitter abuse work of British spies?

Christina McKelvie MSP said there were ‘interesting’ theories to suggest secret service plants wereto blame for messages calling Harry Potter author a ‘whore’, ‘b****’ and ‘traitor’

Conspiracy theories to the effect that online abuse aimed at the Harry Potter author JK Rowling after she donated £1 million to the Better Together campaign may have actually been the work of British spies, have been described as ‘interesting’ by a senior Scottish politician.

The backlash against Rowling saw Twitter users call her a “whore”, “b****”, “traitor” and “c***”, with the comments largely attributed to apparent supporters of Scottish independence.

But writing in a local newspaper, the SNP’s Christina McKelvie suggested that there was no link whatsoever between the accounts which sent the author abuse and “anything to do with the Yes campaign”.

Instead, Ms McKelvie appeared to give credence to what she described as “interesting” theories of MI5 attempts to discredit nationalists, in comments closely resembling those of veteran campaigner Jim Sillars earlier this month.

Writing in the Hamilton Advertiser Ms McKelvie said: “The attacks on JK Rowling for her donation to Better Together were, in fact, down to a very few people whose accounts no one could trace back to having anything to do with the Yes campaign.

The MSP, who chairs Holyrood's European and External Relations Committee, added: “Whoever made them – there are interesting conspiracy theorists who think it might all have been down to secret service plants – should be totally condemned. I have no time for this kind of small-minded viciousness.”

However, Ms McKelvie subsequently stated that her reference to the conspiracy theories was not an endorsement of them. “What I have written is not, by any stretch of even the most febrile imagination, a suggestion that British secret services were involved.” 

One of the abusive posts against Rowling appeared on the official profile of an Edinburgh-based charity, which was reportedly investigated by regulators following the incident that it said was a result of its Twitter account being “hacked”.

The “personal insults” were condemned by leading figures on both sides of the independence debate, and the head of the Church of Scotland called for everyone to “turn the volume down”.

But Mr Sillars claimed that it was “naïve” to think that the security forces were not involved in seeking to influence the outcome of September’s ballot which could see the break-up of the UK.

• This article has been amended to reflect the fact that Christina McKelvie has disputed the notion that her reference to conspiracy theories amounted to an endorsement. Ms McKelvie has asked us to make clear that she referred to tweets about secret service involvement in cyber abuse regarding JK Rowling was to highlight the reality that politicians have a responsibility to discourage people behaving badly on twitter. We are happy to set out Ms McKelvie’s position.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Management Trainer

£30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Exciting career opportunity to join East...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Scientist / Research Assistant

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious start-up company b...

Reach Volunteering: Chair of Trustees

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Do you love the Engl...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible