A BBC Scotland complaint – HGV Drivers

Below is the full text of a complaint submitted to the BBC following an item broadcast on Reporting Scotland on March 1st, 2018.  The complaint relates to comments by BBC Scotland presenter Jackie Bird who claimed First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had criticised HGV drivers for taking vehicles onto snowbound motorways.


Complaint submitted on March 04th, 2018

On the March 1st edition of Reporting Scotland the following remark was made by presenter Jackie Bird. “There was criticism today from the First Minister for some HGV drivers who ignored the red weather warning to stay off the roads.”

The related item that followed contained footage of the First Minister speaking.  The footage appeared to support the presenter’s claim.

However, not shown was additional footage of the First Minister in which she very clearly goes out of her way to make clear she *isn’t* criticising drivers.

The claim by Jackie Bird was demonstrably false.  The First Minister did not criticise HGV drivers, whose safety she had been concerned with, she did though criticise HGV companies.

The error was not restricted to Reporting Scotland.  Three days later presenter Gordon Brewer repeated the claim in an interview with Transport minister Humza Yousaf, falsely claiming the First Minister had blamed truck drivers.  Even when corrected, Brewer persisted with the false claim.

Two presenters in four days have made exactly the same inexcusable error.


Response from the BBC, received March 6th

During the headlines we correctly highlighted that the First Minister accused some transport companies of sending lorries on the road for nonessential journeys despite the warnings. Our subsequent script unintentionally misquoted Ms Sturgeon in making reference to HGV drivers and we accept that should have been clearer. That said, our comprehensive coverage surrounding this story has been balanced for our audience. It included the footage of Ms Sturgeon making her comments during First Minister’s Questions so our audience could hear exactly what she had to say on the matter.


Follow on complaint submitted March 8th

The response states: “Our subsequent script unintentionally misquoted Ms Sturgeon in making reference to HGV drivers and we accept that should have been clearer.”

This is unacceptable.  A presenter misrepresented the First Minister.  An unequivocal admission of this is required and not some weak excuse that it was just a misquote that lacked clarity.  It didn’t lack clarity.  It was crystal clear.  It was also inaccurate.

Moreover, the item on Reporting Scotland did not include *all* relevant footage of Ms Sturgeon making her comments.  The key clip of her making it clear she was *not* criticising HGV drivers was missing from Reporting Scotland.

Finally, my complaint regarding similar accusations directed at the First Minister by Gordon Brewer three days later, have been ignored.  Brewer not only accused the First Minister of blaming truck drivers, but then aimed the accusation at Humza Yousaf, after being corrected by the Scottish Transport Minister.


BBC response received on March 12th

We raised your further concerns with Editor of Reporting Scotland who has little to add to the response you’ve already received. She reiterated that we unintentionally misquoted the First Minister and that we apologise for that.

Turning to your comments regarding Sunday Politics Scotland broadcast on 4 March 2018. Our initial response made it clear that you may not receive a detailed response to all your points. It stated: “We’re sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address most of the points raised.”

That said, we would like to offer the following response to address your concerns. During the introduction to this story the programme correctly highlighted that the First Minister suggested nonessential HGV lorries were to blame for the delays on the M80 near Stirling. During the subsequent discussion Gordon Brewer asked Humza Yousaf whether more could be done to anticipate bad weather conditions, rather than retrospectively blaming truck drivers. Mr Yousaf made clear that he did not believe anyone was blaming drivers, and went on to outline some of the things he will be looking at in order to avoid future problems.

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11 thoughts on “A BBC Scotland complaint – HGV Drivers


    If you don’t mind can I copy & paste this text to an email of complaint to BBC.?
    You have worded it better than I can right now.

    1. gregor

      I don’t think the authors will mind. We are all BBC subjects and in this together, in the fight for social justice. An impartial public service news provider (with integrity) is of great benefit to all.

  2. gregor

    My 8 year old niece could have got it right.

    It will be interesting to see how they try to spin this one…

    1. Alan Mackay

      bet she even spotted the ingeniousness. that some adult scots dont even allow themselves to acknowledge.

  3. David McCann

    Brewer’s raison d’etre is to make life as difficult as possible for SNP politicians.
    He was put on this Earth for that specific reason!

  4. Robert Graham

    I really admire your persistence when dealing with the BBC in Scotland , I have lost count of the times i have endured the obstacle course they set out when trying to make a complaint , in the end you just give up ,

    Our government departments should take a leaf out of the BBC playbook when dealing with their endless deluge of FOI demands , as far as i can see all the information is published and freely available its just because they are to bloody lazy to look for it .

    I volunteer to single handedly answer all FOI request from the BBC & their unionist friends i hope they appreciate i tend to be a slow reader but eventually they will get an answer , it might be a short one , F/ off comes to mind .

    1. gregor

      Don’t give up.

      What BBC is doing is unsustainable (an unacceptable).

      The public are essential to the BBC – the BBC is no longer essential to the public.

      Let such gross injustice be an inspiration.

      We are winning whether BBC likes it or not.

  5. Scott

    Complaint into BBC but don’t hold out much hope I will get any satisfaction from them,wait and see.
    Its time the SNP took the gloves off with that lot.

  6. Maureen Flood

    I am appalled that the BBC continue with their biased reporting in the blatant way they do without due concern – their reporters seem to have lost the plot. They are supposed to be neutral – they are blatantly playing politics – it really needs to stop. They are insulting a large population of Scottish people with their political stance they are taking.I have totally lost respect for programmes like reporting scotland and Gary Robertson and his team.

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