GLASGOW City Council leader Susan Aitken has issued a letter to Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, urging him to launch an investigation into suggestions that a Twitter troll has links to his councillors. 

The now-suspended Twitter account, Bears Fight Back, had been harassing Aitken and other SNP councillors and council officers. 

The account, however, appeared to have access to information that it would seem could only have been obtained from Labour councillors.

READ MORE: Leonard urged to probe Glasgow Labour loyalist Twitter troll link

Read her letter in full here:


Dear Richard

I write in connection with an investigation by the Scottish Sun on Sunday, which reveals evidence that an internet troll account that has now been suspended by Twitter had prior access to the content of Freedom of Information requests and correspondence from Labour councillors, long before this was in the public domain.

The account in question, Bears Fight Back, tweeted up to dozens of times a day at or about me, other SNP councillors and Glasgow City Council officers. The tweets contained highly personal attacks, including entirely false and defamatory claims and sectarian language that could be construed as hate speech. They were clearly designed to inflame and provoke further online attacks. Some contained implicit threats which have led to more than one SNP councillor having to either cancel surgeries or only attend surgeries accompanied.

This account was clearly operated with the primary intention of causing alarm and distress to the individuals it targeted.

I have now seen a timeline which shows that this account was tweeting about the activities of members of the Labour Group before these were publicly known. In one case, the detail of materials obtained via Freedom of Information requests by one member of the group appeared on the account, in one instance within hours of it being received by the councillor and several days before it was made public. In another case, the account was tweeting about a letter the group leader apparently intended to send to me several hours before it was actually sent. The Twitter account later openly boasted about his prior knowledge of the correspondence.

In both cases, the stories the account tweeted about, and which members of the Labour group subsequently promoted elsewhere in the media, were either without foundation or, to put it politely, the cheapest kind of politics. In one case I was attacked due to the fact that the Council instructed extra security precautions for my day to day travel during a period when someone was under investigation for and subsequently convicted of stalking me. But a lack of veracity and ethics is not my purpose for writing to you.

The evidence is extremely strong that information about the intended activities of senior members of the Glasgow Labour Group was passed either directly or indirectly to the anonymous controller of the Bears Fight Back account. It is beyond the remotest possibility that the source or sources responsible for passing this information were not aware that it would stoke online harassment of me and others and have significant repercussions for us as we carry out our democratic duties. That is unacceptable, by any standards.

Were this an isolated incident it could perhaps be explained by coincidence, carelessness or guesswork. But this is a sustained campaign which is clearly being assisted and indeed facilitated by others.

It is on that particular point that I am writing to urge you to investigate how this could have happened; what the connections are between Glasgow Labour – both the Labour council group and the wider party – and this online troll; and to determine what actions Scottish Labour will take in response. None of the comments made by Labour representatives in the article in any way addresses the core question at the heart of this matter.

Given the evidence presented at the weekend I must consider what other courses of action I may take but believe it is incumbent upon you to establish if Labour members have been involved in this campaign.

I understand that several newspapers – at least one of which was tagged into many of the tweets from this account – has copies of relevant screenshots which may assist your investigation. I assume that Scottish Labour HQ will have to be closely involved in this, therefore I have copied in your Scottish Secretary, Michael Sharpe.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Susan Aitken                                            

Leader of the Council