Several of our members have requested more information about why we changed the verdict on this fact-check, a few hours after publication.
It is the first time we’ve needed to make a correction significant enough to warrant a verdict change.
The fact that the article was already online before it was amended is unfortunate and we take full responsibility.
Rather than reply to everyone individually, we thought it would be easier and clearer to respond with one statement here.
What was the timeline?
The fact-check was originally published with a True verdict at 18.26 on March 20.
Very soon after this, it became clear that we had not considered data which we concluded would require a verdict change.
At 20.00 that evening, we removed our initial social media posts and added a note to the fact-check alerting readers that it was under review and likely to be revised.
At 22.52 that evening, we published the revised post, with a new Mostly False verdict and correction note, and re-posted to social media.
What new data was considered?
The new data we considered relates to Scottish Government figures on trade between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Why did you add this new data in?
The original Business for Scotland claim is that “Scotland exports more than it imports.”
This claim is not based on statistics which take account of the trade between Scotland and the other UK nations. It also does not take account of services, and it does not take account of oil and gas exports.
Given the significance of the trade between Scotland and the other UK nations, it became clear to us that a reasonable person would be given the impression that Scotland’s overall balance of trade was positive from the published Business for Scotland graphic.
Yet, a wider view of the Scottish Government statistics indicate that this is not the case, if oil and gas exports are excluded.
We felt it important to give our readers a more comprehensive view of Scotland’s balance of trade.
Why didn’t you include Oil and Gas exports?
The original Business for Scotland claim also excludes oil and gas exports.
Oil and gas figures are not counted as a Scottish export in Scottish Government figures. This is because they are classified as a UK export by the EU.
The Scottish Government publishes experimental figures on the additional revenue generated by the oil and gas industry in Scotland, which are still in development.
The Scotfact website has produced a useful table that shows the impact on Scotland’s overall balance of trade if these figures were included.
Did someone “lean on you” to make you change your verdict?
No. Our co-operative, ad-free business model means that no-one can put pressure on us.
The decision to change the verdict was made by the same FFS editorial team that is responsible for all fact-check decisions.
You can find out more our FFS methodology here:
Who told you about this new data that made you change the verdict?
We were made aware of the Scottish Government data by a helpful subscriber, not anyone linked to a political party or pressure group.
Is the additional data you used reliable?
The Ferret uses the most reliable data we can find to address a particular topic. The Scottish Government statistics on Scotland’s trade balance come with some caveats which are mentioned in the article, but they are the most robust figures available.
The figures used in this fact-check were all from official sources, and everything we have quoted is linked within the article so readers can research issue themselves.
How to complain
The Ferret is independently regulated by Impress. If you are not satisfied with this response, you can find out more about how to submit a complaint here.