Senior figures on both sides of the Scottish Independence debate have called for an end to online vitriol in the wake of the torrent of abuse directed at the Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
The writer, who has lived in Scotland for the past 21 years, was targeted by nationalists after it was revealed she made a “substantial” donation to the Better Together campaign – believed to be £1 million.
Rowling wrote a detailed explanation of why she has chosen to support the unionist cause, with the caveat that she shows there are “intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of this question”.
But she pre-empted some of the anger and criticism she has since received, writing: “I also know that there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence.”
Sure enough, nationalists who Rowling described as “Death Eaterish” for “judging [her] ‘insufficiently Scottish’” scrambled online to tell her to “get to f***”, calling her “politically corrupt”, a “b****” and a “c***”.
Andy Bruce wrote: “Another filthy rich person backs the UK staying together. What a surprise. F*** off JK Rowling, you absolute goon.”
According to the Daily Record, Tracey-Anne McDonald, from Glasgow, wrote: “I quite liked JK Rowling being the creator of Harry Potter & that but she can take herself to f*** with her better together p*** #VOTEAYE.”
Nimmo said: “JK Rowling can get herself to f***, politically corrupt as she & her rich Tory friends try to influence gimpy Harry Potter fans.”
And in perhaps the most remarkable outburst of all, a registered Edinburgh charity posted from its official profile describing Rowling as a “b****”.
Ironically named The Dignity Project, it said: “What a #b***h after we gave her shelter in our city when she was a single mum.”
The charity, whose previous posts from the account include links to “40 Reasons Scotland Is Better Than England”, criticism of a Tory councillor and a description of the Liberal Democrats as “slimy, crocked, devious, vile and treacherous”, later posted a statement on its website saying it had been “hacked”.
It said: “The Dignity Project has had its Twitter account hacked, we are not responsible for any tweets that have been sent.
“As a charity we do not take any political stance and our opinion is people are free to donate to whoever they choose.”
The Right Rev John Chalmers, leader of the Church of Scotland, called for people debating the referendum to “stick to facts” in the weeks ahead.
He told the Herald Scotland: “Personal insults have no part in the discussion about Scotland's future. Some of what I am hearing from both sides in the campaign represents my worst fear as decision day draws closer.
“I urge both sides of this debate to turn the volume down, stick to facts and principles and remember that on 19 September there will be no 'us and them', only us.”
A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: “While we may disagree with her views, we of course completely respect JK Rowling and her right to express her opinion on the referendum and donate to the No campaign.”
David Cameron’s spokesperson has also condemned the attacks on Rowling, saying: “There is no place for abusive behaviour in whichever sphere of life, so it’s important to be clear about that.”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies