A BBC Scotland reporter has confirmed the broadcaster knew about claims made by a female civil servant, who alleges she was taped to a chair and gagged, weeks before it reported the story.
Mark Daly, who is BBC Scotland’s investigations reporter, denied suggestions the station had delayed its coverage unnecessarily.
Responding to a tweet by this site, Mr Daly said: “Our stories take time to stand up, and run when they are ready.”
The story appeared on BBC Scotland on Wednesday afternoon and featured an image of a woman who appeared to have been taped to a chair and gagged. The story was described as an “exclusive” by Mark Daly who recounted a harrowing tale of bullying allegedly endured by a female worker at Marine Scotland eight years ago. Mr Daly also criticised what he termed ‘gagging orders’ imposed on civil servants involved in the case.
However some online commentators questioned the timing of the story, which coincided with the imminent publication of the SNP’s Growth Commission report. The ‘taped and gagged’ story also followed news that the SNP had criticised BBC Scotland in a submission to Ofcom.
It has also emerged that the story is not new, but is in fact six months old. Indyref2 can reveal that in November 2017 the Press & Journal newspaper carried a virtual word-for-word account of the allegations ‘revealed’ by BBC Scotland.
In the November article, written by Chris Jaffray which covered a tribunal hearing, the reporter says: “DeeAnn Fitzpatrick claims she was mocked for having a miscarriage, repeatedly insulted and that her complaints were ignored during her time working at Marine Compliance.
“The 48–year-old, of Janetstown near Thurso, has been signed off sick from work since November last year but now wants compensation.”
The article quotes Ms Fitzpatrick: “I was taped to a chair by two of my colleagues and told this is what happens if you speak out.”
The article also revealed that in 2014 there had been an investigation into how Ms Fitzpatrick was treated in the workplace. It also noted a four year gap between 2011 and 2015 when no claims had been made.
Following the reports by BBC Scotland, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced a review of the case. Speaking at First Minister’s Questions the First Minister told MSPs she was “absolutely horrified” by the image of the woman taped to a chair. Ms Sturgeon said she had asked a top civil servant to conduct a full review into the circumstances and report to her personally as soon as possible.
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