Gove hits out after newspaper quizzes father over family fish business sale
Leave campaigner Michael Gove has accused the Guardian of trying to "put words" into his father's mouth after questions were raised about the Justice Secretary's claims EU policies ruined his family's fish processing company.
Ernest Gove sold the firm for a variety of reasons, including the Icelandic cod wars, dockworkers' strikes, and the introduction of 200-mile limits to control over-fishing, according to the newspaper.
The Justice Secretary has repeatedly stated during the referendum campaign that the firm "went to the wall" and was "destroyed" because of EU fisheries policy.
He told BBC One's Question Time EU Special: The Case for Leave: "My dad was rung up by a reporter from the Guardian who tried to put words into his mouth but my dad has been clear, he was clear to the BBC on Sunday night, he was clear to me when I was a boy, that the business that he invested so much care and time in had to close as a result of the Common Fisheries Policy."
He added: "I know what my dad went through when I was a schoolboy and I don't think that the Guardian or anyone else should belittle his suffering or try to get a 79-year-old man to serve their agenda instead of agreeing and being proud of what his son does."
Mr Gove told Sky News earlier this month: "My father had a fishing business in Aberdeen destroyed by the European Union and the common fisheries policy."
Stating that the industry in Scotland "more or less collapsed down" following the EU's involvement in fisheries policy, Mr Gove Snr told the Guardian: "It wasn't any hardship or things like that. I just decided to call it a day and just sold up my business and went on to work with someone else.
"I couldn't see any future in it, that type of thing, the business that I had, so I wasn't going to go into all the trouble of having hardship. I just decided to sell up and get a job with someone else. That was all."
After the newspaper approached the Cabinet Minister for reaction to his father's remarks, a clarification was issued.
Mr Gove Snr said he would be voting Leave and was proud of his son for standing-up for people who lost their jobs due to the EU.
"I don't know what this reporter is going on about," Mr Gove Snr said, according to The Guardian.
"Everybody in the north-east knows it was Europe that did such damage to the fish trade. The common fisheries policy was a disaster not just for Aberdeen but all of Scotland. There wasn't any future for my business. It closed as a direct result of Europe," the statement added.
A spokesman for the Justice Secretary told the newspaper: "It is well documented how the EU and the Common Fisheries Policy destroyed the fishing industry, particularly in the north-east of Scotland. EE Gove and Sons was one of the companies directly affected. It closed as a result of the damage inflicted on the fishing industry by the EU."
However, Tory former Scottish MEP, and ex-chairman of the European parliament's fisheries committee, Struan Stevenson, accused the Minister of "trotting out an emotional story as propaganda" to help the Leave campaign.
Mr Stevenson said overfishing had needed to be controlled in order to save stocks.
"I'm dismayed, frankly, because with all the hard work that we put into trying to reform the fisheries industry and trying to get sustainable fishing back on the agenda, and trying to save fish stocks from their inevitable collapse they were heading towards, all that work is being traduced," he told The Guardian.
SNP Scottish parliament member Gillian Martin said: "Michael Gove has been caught out - he should call it a day on his attempts to spin a tale about his family history.
"If Mr Gove was as concerned by the plight of the Scottish fishing industry as he says, then he'd never have joined the political party that viewed it "expendable" in the first place. It's not the EU that's to blame for the difficulties of the fishing industry, but the indifference of the UK Government who sold the industry out."
Vote Remain Labour MP Emma Reynolds said: "I'm glad that Michael Gove's father has made clear the EU did not destroy his fishing business. From Boris's bananas to Gove's fishy tales, the Leave campaign has dodgy claims and dishonesty at its core."