Scottish independence: The Sunday Herald newspaper pledges support for 'Yes' vote

Newspaper with 1.6m monthly online readers is first to back pro-independence campaigners ahead of September's referendum

A prominent Scottish newspaper, The Sunday Herald, has become the first paper to publicly back the ‘Yes’ campaign in the Scottish independence referendum.

The weekly newspaper printed the headline ‘Sunday Herald says Yes’ on its latest front page, which was decorated with a giant thistle and saltires.

Although the paper has pledged to support Yes, it said its reporting would remain balanced.

A statement on the newspaper’s website read: "The Herald & Times Group, publisher of the Sunday Herald, The Herald and the Evening Times, is giving the titles' editors freedom to take their own editorial position on the constitution. The company is non-political and neutral.

"The Herald has not declared an opinion on the referendum question. It will be up to its editor to decide when and if to do so."

The Sunday Herald had previously supported the Scottish National Party (SNP) in the 2007 and 2011 Scottish Parliament elections.

A spokesman for anti-independence campaigners Better Together said: "This is not exactly a surprise. Anybody who has read the Sunday Herald since the campaign started would know that they favour breaking up the UK.

"Newspapers are perfectly entitled to back one side or the other, and we would expect a number of Scottish newspapers to support Scotland remaining in the UK."

Blair Jenkins, Yes Scotland chief executive, said The Sunday Herald was a “statement of irresistible logic” to its readers.

According to industry circulation figures, The Sunday Herald sold an average of 23,907 copies each week in the second half of 2013.

It claims to have a growing online readership, with 1.6m readers every month.

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