A BBC Scotland complaint – The Tory ‘bullying’ claim

Below is a complaint lodged with the BBC.  The complaint relates to coverage on BBC Scotland of an accusation levelled against the Scottish Government by the Scottish Tory party and the subsequent failure of BBC Scotland to provide similar coverage when the accusation was shown to be false.



On Nov 27th, the National Audit Office issued a press release in which it admitted making a mistake in a report it had released to the media thirteen days earlier. The NAO admitted that figures for basic rate income tax payers in Scotland had been overestimated in the report and that this was the reason the report had been pulled on 14th November.

This admission exposed as false, claims made by the Scottish Tory party on 14th November. Ruth Davidson’s party had claimed the NAO had withdrawn the report due to “bullying” by the Scottish Govt. The claim was reported by BBC Scotland in several radio bulletins that same day and also in a lengthy item on the evening edition of Reporting Scotland.

Viewers to Reporting Scotland heard the Scottish Govt being accused of “bullying the NAO to try to coverup the truth”. In all of the news reports the Scottish Govt was heard on the defensive. The accusation and its denial were both presented as equally possible, despite the fact there was literally no evidence to back up the ‘bullying’ claim.

Given the bullying claim was considered important enough to be covered on Reporting Scotland then it is odd that the admission from the NAO, which proved the accusation was false, was not covered at all. The press release from the NAO was arguably a *bigger* story given it both highlighted an error from a respected organisation *and* provided evidence that accusations by the Scottish Tory party had been fabricated.

Reporting Scotland had an obligation to report this development. Yet it did not do so. Those viewers to the November 14th edition who may have believed Tory accusations true, were thus denied an opportunity to have their opinion revised. The result is that a baseless accusation has received widespread coverage, whilst the truth has been all but ignored. The only reference to the NAO admission appeared on Radio Scotland at 19:30 on Nov 28th.

See here for examples of all broadcasts.

Response from the BBC received January 5th 2018

I am afraid I will have to ask you to resubmit this complaint. You have given information which we may need in the form of an URL, which will not open. We cannot accept parts of a complaint to which you wish a response other than in written form on the website or by letter, in each case not exceeding 1,000 words without due reason given for consideration of longer complaints. An exception might be if you provided a link to a BBC online story which was the cause of your complaint.

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9 thoughts on “A BBC Scotland complaint – The Tory ‘bullying’ claim

  1. Derek Hamilton

    Sadly, this is the way the BBC uses its air time to rubbish the SNP and Scottish Government. This is not the first time nor will it be the last. As long as the BBC is funded by UK Government allocating part of the licence fee (just a tax really) the BBC will continue to favour its paymaster.
    The BBC is a biased news reporting organisation and the Tories use it up their own corrupt ends.

  2. Tom McIver

    It is extremely unfair that falsehoods reported as news by the BBC were discovered to be an error followed by a fabrication, that there was no full retraction.

  3. Raymond Leslie

    Is there not some law under the Leveson enquiry that equal coverage must be given to a redact as give to the original story

  4. Robert Graham

    Best of luck , i lost count of my complaints , its constructed so you get fed up and give in .

    Anyway keep up the good work if you didn’t do it who would ?.

  5. Clydebuilt

    I’ve never complained. . . . They know what they are doing . . . . And if it’s a serious porky they wont give a damaging appology. . .

    BREXIT is indeed about regaining control . . . . Yeah The Tories regaining control of their serfs.

    In Monday’s National Gove and pals wanting to ditch the EU directive that limits the maximum hours workers can be forced to do.

    It’s back to the 70’s and “Rip of Britain”. Where Brits had to work much longer to pay for a car than their European neighbours.

    since we joined the EU we’ve slowly caught up with EU quality of life, the reversal of these gains has already started!

    Could easily be soo bad that it’ll bring on Independence. But we need to maintain a majority for independence at Holyrood

  6. Gregor

    The publicly unaccountable BBC does not accept public criticism of itself. The public would not believe how evasive and corrupt the BBC is unless such complaints are widely publicly accessible for all to see. The public very much appreciate your efforts. Keep up the good work.

    1. Jon


      The public are made aware of BBC corruption and lies by seeing the facts compared to BBC reporting. Complaining to the source of the propaganda is not a required part of the education process.

      1. Gregor

        Agreed Jon – thankfully alternative/social media provides society with an ehanced ability to bypass traditional mainstream media which has no genuine intention of serving the ‘public good’.

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