BBC Scotland has defended a news item dubbed ‘Broken Ankle Man’ insisting it was “fair, accurate and impartial”.
The organisation also accused a licence payer who complained about the broadcast of basing a complaint “on the way in which different programmes cut their clips”.
The issue relates to a major news story that appeared across BBC Scotland platforms on January 9th this year. Coverage centred on a man who had apparently broken his ankle and had endured an extensive delay before receiving the required treatment at his local A&E department. The story dominated BBC Scotland radio, online and TV coverage.
However doubts began to be expressed as to the veracity of the claims being made and whether any alleged delay was in fact a result of his own refusal to remain in A&E. A complaint was submitted to the BBC two days later.
The complaint accused BBC Scotlad of misleading viewers by making it appear as though the man had initially spoken to qualified hospital staff, when in fact he had spoken to a receptionist. The complaint also highlighted key edits to the Reporting Scotland interview which masked the truth of both his initial injury diagnoses and the treatment delay he had endured.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Head of News and Current Affairs at BBC Scotland rejected the complaint, saying: “I have looked again at our output. We interviewed someone who had attended A&E and he told us of his experience.”
The official added: “The interviewee made the point in his own words in both editions that, when he attended A&E again and decided to stay, he was told he faced a wait of four hours and was actually seen in about three-and-a-half hours – a timescale within the Scottish Government’s window.
“I cannot agree with your assertion that we cut the interview in ways which provided “a wholly distorted version of the truth”. You appear to base this on the way in which different programmes – in this case, Reporting Scotland on television and Good Morning Scotland on radio – cut their clips. Any difference did not materially alter the story.
“In all respects I am satisfied that our treatment of this story was fair, accurate and impartial.”
Responding, the person who lodged the complaint said: “BBC Scotland hasn’t made any attempt at addressing my complaint.
“Reporting Scotland cut key segments from Alan Browne’s interview and in doing so made it appear as though this man had been given inaccurate medical advice from a professional, instead of from a receptionist.
“The news item was clearly designed to make it appear as though Browne, through no fault of his own, had endured a very painful delay before receiving treatment for a broken ankle.
“Reporting Scotland misled viewers. I know it, and I believe the Head of News and Current Affairs at BBC Scotland knows it too.”
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