Indian scribes caught filching cutlery at posh Edinburgh eatery

11 Jan 2018


A senior journalist accompanying West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on her maiden trip to Scotland last year was caught stealing cutlery at a dinner party hosted in a prominent hotel in Edinburgh.

The incident took place at a luxury hotel in Edinburgh on 17 November a day after Banerjee addressed delegates at a business meeting organised to woo local investors.

Banerjee was accompanied by a team of senior journalists and editors of local newspapers and television channels along with government officials.

The journalist, a reporter with a Bengali paper who is aged around 60, initially denied the charge and reportedly even tried to get off by putting the stolen item inside the bag of a fellow journalist from a Bengali news television channel. But he was caught on security cameras installed inside the banquet hall and had to give in.

The hotel was initially reluctant to take action as other guests around the table included prominent citizens both from India and the UK including politicians and industrialists and journalists.

But ultimately the hotel staff threatened to hand the gentleman - said to be a regular on Mamata's foreign tours - over to the police but finally let him off with a fine of £50.

According to some reports, he wasn't the only one - several other reporters who had noticed his actions didn't want to miss out on the loot and followed suit, flicking silverware from the large table around which they sat and stealthily stuffing it into bags and purses on their laps.

Sadly, all too many Indian journalists are light-fingered, as managements of press clubs around the country will testify – at the Mumbai Press Club, it is not uncommon for even wine goblets to disappear into holdalls.

But these journalists did not realise that most public places in the UK, especially upmarket restaurants, are heavily covered by CCTV cameras.

Since the incident brought shame to the entire fraternity and even tarnished the image of the state, journalists decided not to speak about it.

However, some members of the delegation recently revealed the incident to Janashartha Barta, a small Bengali tabloid. The tabloid carried a report on 8 January but mistakenly stated that it happened in London.

''The scribe in question works for a Bengali daily with limited circulation but figures among journalists known to be close to the Bengal Chief Minister. In the past, he had been part of media teams that went abroad with Banerjee,'' one of the editors who was present at the party told Hindustan Times.

''The scribe had to pay the fine from his own pocket. It became a shameful episode since Bengalis living in Edinburgh, who were otherwise enthused to see the chief minister in their city, came to know about the theft,'' said the editor.

The editor said the chief minister was not present at the dinner where the theft took place since it was privately hosted by an industrialist. She was furious when someone informed her the next day.

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