Culture secretary

SNP culture secretary accuses BBC of ‘very controversial’ reporting on independence referendum

The Scottish Culture Secretary has accused the BBC of failing to meet its standards of impartiality in the independence referendum.

During a debate at Holyrood called to defend the broadcaster, Angus Robertson claimed there had been some “very controversial” reporting during the campaign.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole Hamilton criticized Robertson: “The SNP are happy to undermine an independent and impartial national broadcaster whenever it suits them.

“The Culture Secretary’s comments show that this rot goes all the way to the top. If it were up to them, our national broadcaster would just be repeating nationalist nonsense, rather the rightly question when government figures don’t not add up.”

Alex Salmond, who was SNP Prime Minister during the referendum, fell out with the BBC during the referendum over reports by then political editor Nick Robinson.

The row has led angry nationalists to stage protests outside BBC Scotland’s headquarters in Glasgow.

Critics blasted the protesters and said they intimidated journalists who were just doing their job.

Cole-Hamilton, who represents Edinburgh Western, yesterday led a debate in defense of the BBC amid claims by Tory MPs that the funding model should be changed.

Robertson, appointed to the Cabinet as Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, began by praising the BBC.



Angus Robertson

He said: “I remember almost daily when I meet leaders and diplomats from other countries the exceptionally high regard around the world for the BBC and UK public service broadcasting.

“It’s hard to overstate its importance, which stems from its core principles of providing unbiased news and information, supporting education, creativity and our creative economy, and representing us with compelling, high-quality content. .”

Cole-Hamilton asked if he considered reporting on the referendum to be biased and would condemn the “actions of the nationalist movement” to “hound” Robinson and other BBC staff.

Robertson replied: “It is disappointing that the MP for Edinburgh Western [Cole Hamilton] does not seek to establish a compromise within the hemicycle, so I look forward to discussing these issues in the future.

“I think Nick Robinson reflected on his part in reporting on the 2014 referendum and said he partly regretted it, so I think the Edinburgh Western MP should reflect on the fact that there was reporting very controversial during the independence referendum.

“And I’m sorry to say that I don’t really think – and I speak as someone who is an incredibly strong supporter of the BBC – that it has lived up to its high standards of impartiality during this time. And, as a result of that, that’s why the level of public trust in Scotland is lower and I think everyone should think about that, especially at the BBC.

Labor MP Sarah Boyack said: “It was a very worrying, albeit predictable, intervention by Angus Robertson.

“In a democracy, it is the role of a public broadcaster to ask tough questions of governments.

“As the SNP and the Tories spread Trumpian contempt over the BBC, Scottish Labor will defend the institution and its work.”

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