A BBC Scotland Complaint – FM China Smear

Below is a complaint submitted to the BBC on April 15th, 2018.  The complaint relates to coverage of a politically motivated attack on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon who, at the time, was leading a Scottish trade mission to China.


Full complaint submitted on April 15th.

On Friday April 13th a headline appeared on the front page of The Herald newspaper.  The headline read: ‘Fury after Sturgeon pulls rank on Chinese wind farm’.  Beneath the headline, a sub-heading read: ‘FM overrules council planners a day before Beijing meeting with financers’.

The newspaper headline was read out by Good Morning Presenter Gary Robertson that same morning.


An image of The Herald front page appeared in the BBC Scotland daily newspaper section that day.  Headlined ‘The papers: Sturgeon’s China wind farm row‘, the article was the third item on the BBC Scotland main online news page.  The introductory sentence read: “A row over Chinese investors makes Scotland’s front pages as the first minister calls in a planning decision.”

Both The Herald front page and the BBC’s own brief summary were false.  Nicola Sturgeon had neither called in a planning decision nor had she pulled rank on, or overruled, council planners.

The day after The Herald published its front page, the newspaper issued a correction and an apology.

Given the false front page accusation was broadcast word-for-word on Good Morning Scotland, then it is only fair that the correction and apology is also broadcast word-for-word on the same programme.

Given an image of the front page appeared in BBC Scotland’s online newspaper promo that same day, then it is only fair that an image of the apology and correction also appear in the same section.

Finally, a correction from BBC Scotland is also required for its own erroneous claim that the “first minister calls in a planning decision”.

A wider point is the practice of promoting politically motivated newspaper stories on the BBC.  The Herald claim is not the only newspaper claim promoted by BBC Scotland which turned out to be false, and for which an apology was published by the newspaper.

In January this year The Scottish Daily Mail was involved in a similar issue after making false claims relating to the Union Flag about the FM.  Like The Herald, the story was promoted by BBC Scotland both online and on radio before it was proven to be completely false.


The subsequent admission from The Scottish Daily Mail, that the story was false, was never covered by BBC Scotland.

The practice of promoting politically motivated newspapers needs to be ended if, as can be seen, it is assisting in the circulation of fake news.


Response from the BBC received April 18th

We believe it was clear in both cases you have mentioned that we attributed the claims made to The Herald. Our online piece introduction reads: Nicola Sturgeon faces criticism in several papers during her trip to China. There is then a link to the amended Herald story which reads: The Herald’s top story details a “planning row” after SNP ministers intervened in a controversial application backed by the Chinese government. We regularly report on what the newspapers are reporting on any given day and are satisfied it is appropriate for us to do so.


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8 thoughts on “A BBC Scotland Complaint – FM China Smear

  1. Brian McGowan

    Perfect. I am always delighted to see and read your complaints to BBC Scotland, about BBC Scotland.
    I look forward to having a laugh at the way the responder will twist and turn, or simply prevaricate, asking for more time, more info, more this, more that. Or that you didn’t obey the Complaints Rules, or that you used too many/not enough words etc etc etc zzzzz.

  2. Finnmacollie

    From their own Editorial Policy – “It is the BBC’s job to look at news with a fresh pair of eyes – and not be driven by the agendas and interests of Newspapers, pressure groups, political parties or governments”

    There is also the small matter of “press reviews” being nothing other that the blatant advertising of newspapers. Maybe the papers should pay for this service instead of the taxpayer.

  3. Cubby

    These people who work in these papers and TV are lacking in any basic decency. They are disgusting creatures. What other country suffers from a media like others that employs people whose only job is to run down and belittle their own country. Pathetic disgusting creatures.

    If they had any personal integrity they would change job and preferably leave the country as they are a bunch of tractors.

  4. James double

    Let’s say it in plain language the higher powers say what they think will fool the people (False News) apologies after the so called fact knowing that what ever, they would have convinced & fooled some of the people shame on u but not all of the people fell for ur spin.

  5. Robert Graham

    After the amount of verifiable complaints lodged regarding items broadcast by this government funded organisation , I believe its time for the Scottish government to step in

    This BBC Scotland are not reporting the truth ,every single item is laced with a slant that attempts to undermine the freely elected government , any other country would call that sedition

    I have given up wasting time complaining all complaints are probably given the same treatment (bin) , A brick wall and hitting your head against it seems to apply .

    For one organisation to have so many complaints is quite worrying , they wont admit the amount of complaints or even how many people are refusing to pay the TV licence Tax , even evading FOI requests with spurious evasive answers , and for this lot to fund positions in newspapers

  6. Gerry Robertson

    As is their intention the BBC and MSM are trying to impoverish Scotland. They will try to undermine any attempts by the Scottish Goverrnment to improve the quality of life for Scots.

    Their aim is simple to spread doom and gloom whenever possible and so give the perception amongst those who do not know any better that the Government is incompetent.

  7. Craig Simpson

    The BBC actions in Scotland used to be dismissed as unintentional metropolitan (London) bias.

    Unfortunately the long litany of these unintentional errors in one direction only suggests that the bias is not unintentional.

    The BBC can no longer credibly claim to be either Honest or Truthful

    Whilst we all accepted that the BBC was a propaganda tool by omission, we must now conclude that it is now by design

    The hypocrisy is that the BBC tag line all across the US Web site is about being “The Truth”

  8. Joseph

    Radio Scotland used to be a good radio station. Now its just a platform for mediocre cultural Marxists. This is the mouthpiece of the real government – the civil service and university sector. They have no other interest than maintaining their cushy lives and dipping your pocket for their huge salaries, pension plans, award ceremonies and honorary degrees.

    There’s no “news” to be had here – its just pure propaganda.

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