The BBC has admitted it “misquoted” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon after one of its most high-profile presenters claimed the SNP leader had criticised HGV drivers following last week’s snow blizzard which left many vehicles stranded.
In a response to complaints, the BBC said it had “… unintentionally misquoted Ms Sturgeon in making reference to HGV drivers”.
The issue followed an edition of Reporting Scotland in which viewers heard presenter Jackie Bird say: “There was criticism today from the First Minister for some HGV drivers who ignored the red weather warning to stay off the roads.”
The item referred to comments made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during that day’s FMQ’s at Holyrood. However the First Minister had been critical, not of the HGV drivers, but of the companies that employed them.
In its response, the BBC pointed out that the programme introduction had accurately reported Nicola Sturgeon’s criticism of companies. The broadcaster claimed overall coverage was balanced.
The full response read: “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.”
However the claim from the BBC that Reporting Scotland included footage of Ms Sturgeon making her comments, “so our audience could hear exactly what she had to say on the matter”, is not borne out by the facts. The clip below of Nicola Sturgeon making clear she was not criticising HGV drivers was in fact cut from the programme.
The response from the BBC is unlikely to appease the broadcaster’s Scottish critics, many of whom argue an anti-SNP agenda is at work. That claim appeared to be bolstered on Sunday when the host of Politics Scotland, Gordon Brewer, levelled the same accusation at the First Minister the BBC has now admitted was false.
The ‘mistake’ is the latest in a string of erroneous news broadcasts from the BBC relating to Scottish politics which impact negatively on the SNP. Previous mistakes include an Indyref pledge on Type 26 frigates, NHS Scotland A&E waiting times statistics and the M9 tragedy which has witnessed several BBC reporters falsely claim an emergency 999 call had been ignored.
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