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UK: Scotch Whisky Association denies being silenced on Scottish independence debate

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The head of the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has denied the group has been pressured into silence on the question of Scottish independence, but admitted there has been “vigorous” discussions with both sides. 

The SWA admits it has been lobbied hard by both sides of the debate

The SWA admits it has been lobbied hard by both sides of the debate

In a blog on the SWA's website today (10 July), David Frost said that pro- and anti-independence campaigners had “forcefully” made their case to the group. But, he added: “Those conversations have always been constructive.” 

Frost's comments come after his predecessor, Gavin Hewitt, claimed to Channel 4's Dispatches programme that, during his time at the SWA, the Scottish National Party had warned the trade group against speaking out against independence. The SNP reportedly denied the claims.

Frost wrote today: “Has the Scotch Whisky Association been pressed into silence in public? Absolutely not, and no-one has suggested to me that we should be.

“Despite the strong feelings on either side of the debate, we have felt able to participate in what we regard as a constructive manner."

However, he hinted that the group has not seen eye-to-eye with those fighting for independence. Frost flagged that the SWA sees “risks” with independence, bearing in mind the “export-focussed” nature of the industry and how Scotland's relationship with the European Union could be affected by a 'yes' vote.

He added: “We have talked about these points to advocates of independence. While I don't think there's usually been a meeting of minds, we have always had a fair hearing.”

But, he concluded: “Whatever the result, we are committed to working with government in the future to deliver economic growth and prosperity for Scotland and all of us who live here.”

Earlier this week, it emerged that William Grant & Sons, a member of the SWA, has donated GBP185,000 (US$317,000) to the campaign opposed to Scottish independence

To read an exclusive just-drinks analysis on what independence might mean for the Scotch whisky industry, click here.


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