BBC Trust says no evidence UK Govt ever pledged thirteen frigates

The UK government did not pledge to build thirteen Type 26 frigates on the Clyde during the 2014 referendum campaign, according to the BBC’s watchdog.

In a ruling that will shock many, BBC Trustees have said there is no evidence that such a specific pledge was ever made by any UK government minister.

The ruling follows a complaint over news bulletins broadcast on November 4th on BBC Scotland’s flagship morning news programme Good Morning Scotland.  According to the three bulletins a UK government indyref pledge to build eight Type 26 frigates on the Clyde was set to be honoured.


The bulletins coincided with an announcement by the UK government of its intention to build eight frigates at the Clydeside yards.

The bulletins prompted a complaint by a listener who pointed out that the pledge made during the referendum campaign was for thirteen Type 26 frigates and not eight as the BBC had claimed.  The complaint also alleged that listeners would have been misled into believing a UK government indyref pledge was soon to be honoured when in fact the reality was that it had been broken.

The complaint resulted in the programme producer issuing a private apology.  Despite the apology, the BBC refused to broadcast any correction and also refused to accept the pledge was for thirteen frigates.

In its ruling the BBC Trust agreed that eight frigates had not been pledged as claimed by the programme.  However, the trustees refused to accept the complainant’s claim that thirteen frigates had in fact been promised.

A confidential draft ruling seen by Indyref2 says: “Trustees agreed that while various UK ministers had warned of the possible impact of a Yes vote on future MoD contracts, they had seen no evidence that the UK Government had made a specific campaign pledge to build 13 Type 26 frigates or eight Type 26 frigates on the Clyde before the referendum.”

The document adds: “Trustees noted that BBC Scotland had apologised at Stage One of the BBC’s complaints process for giving incorrect information about the Type 26 frigates. Trustees decided that in these circumstances a broadcast correction was not required and that the apology at Stage One had resolved the matter.”

The document contains evidence, provided by the complainant, which clearly shows UK government ministers, newspapers and senior BBC reporters all referring to thirteen Type 26 frigates during the 2014 independence referendum campaign.

Official statements from UK government ministers were supplied:

Sept 2012 – Philip Dunne confirms 13 Type 26 frigates will be built.

Nov 6th 2013 – BAE’s Scotstoun and Govan yards have been chosen to build the Type 26 Global Combat ships after the 2014 vote.  UK Govt minister Alistair Carmichael warns that a Yes vote will place the order in doubt.

July 2014 – Philip Hammond confirms 13 Type 26 frigates.

Leaflets issued by the Labour party during the referendum campaign also highlighted the thirteen frigate pledge.  The leafet stated: “Within the UK Govan and Scotstoun will get the order for 13 Type-26 frigates from the Royal Navy.

“For more information, read the Scottish Affairs Committee report on shipyards and Separation online…”

According to the Scottish Affairs Committee report, “The Strategic Defence and Security Review proposed there would be 13 Type 26 frigates.”

The BBC Trust ruling was ridiculed by documentary filmmaker Alan Knight who said it showed why trust in the BBC was ebbing away north of the border.

Knight, who directed London Calling, the documentary which looked at the BBC’s coverage of the first referendum, said:

“The ruling defies logic.  Everyone knows that thirteen Type 26 frigates was a key referendum pledge by the UK government.

“If ever proof was needed that the BBC has lost its way, it is this.  If this can be deemed not to have been an indyref pledge then it means anything can be deemed thus.

“What’s next?  There was no Vow?  Our EU membership was not guaranteed with a No vote?  This kind of nonsense is the reason trust in the BBC in Scotland is low, and getting lower.”

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14 thoughts on “BBC Trust says no evidence UK Govt ever pledged thirteen frigates

  1. Col

    I can’t remember specifics but I’m sure someone at the BBC in Scotland has already tried to say things weren’t offered to Scotland in the vow when they clearly had been.
    They are literally trying to rewrite history!
    So they rewrite the past, put a lot of effort into managing the news as is in order to disinform so as to control future events.
    They are propagandists and are doing it on an industrial scale in the lie factory that is BBC Scotland.

    1. Seoras

      The BBC used to have a date and time on their news pages so you knew if it had been changed since the posting of the original. That has gone now as fast as I can tell

  2. Big Jock

    The denial from the BBC about the vow was over what Brown had said and meant. It was defined as the nearest thing to FFA In other words Federalism.

    When it’s mentioned to Radio Scotland presenters. They argue that black is white and Brown never said this. But he did and it was on record. They are lying on behalf of the no campaign. But they are May’s media spinners so what else do we expect. We just have to ignore the BBC and get our message out.

  3. Roboscot

    I do wish the Scottish Government would criticise the BBC as undermining Scottish democracy and say it needs to operate more like a public broadcaster and less like the state media. There would, hopefully, be an almighty stushie about it, and the Scottish Government would get a huge hostile media reaction against them, but it would at least raise the issue in the minds of people who seem oblivious to it. The BBC cannot be reformed or replaced so its credibility has to be challenged.

  4. Robert

    If the BBC ever reported 13 frigates (they did) then you can now challenge those reports as apparent “lies” since the trust says those reports were made without any evidence to support them.

    The trust will have to respond by apologising for lying or by claiming that there *was* evidence of 13 ships.

    You will put them in a position of having to make two contradictory claims in order to defend themselves from accusations of peddling propaganda.

    Which will be very funny

  5. Brian Powell

    Weird, it’s as if the BBC didn’t realise it is a broadcasting organisation and when it broadcasts wrong information it need to broadcast corrections.

  6. James Brown

    British Broadcasting Corporation = Ministry of Truth.
    When George Orwell wrote Nineteen Eighty Four it was meant as a work of fiction.
    Apparently the Tories and the mainstream media see it as an Instruction Manual.

  7. Doogie Hamilton

    This is the same trust that condoned the lies of the BBC’s political editor when he lied about Alec Salmond’s response to a question he posed to him when he was leading the last YES campaign, were you expecting anything else???

  8. Margaret Eleftheriou

    This reminds me of the famous case of Trotsky’s elbow, which was all that remained after the doctoring of a photograph of Lenin with Trotsky, addressing soldiers, I believe. Stalin was a master of rewriting history. The truth vanishes, the lie remains and is for ever taken as the truth. It is very frightening that the BBC Trust has taken on the mantle of Stalin. Because that is exactly what they have done.
    There is a lot more information in The Commissar Vanishes, by David King, reviewed in the NY times. A small extract below.

    It was especially important to Stalin that all photographs showing Lenin and Trotsky side by side vanish. In subsequent reproductions of a famous 1920 photograph of Lenin addressing soldiers from a wooden dais in front of the Bolshoi Theater, Trotsky is either cropped out of the picture or, if the wider angle is retained to include the ”masses,” Trotsky magically becomes a flight of five wooden stairs. In another, all that remains of Trotsky is his elbow.

  9. Edward Freeman

    As soon as the date for the referendum is announced, can we take over BBC Scotland, please? Oh, and keep all the TV licence money from Scotland in Scotland, where it can be spent on making and buying in content that we actually want to watch.

    As Ms. May can’t be bothered with dealing with Scottish independence because she’s too busy Brexiting, surely she won’t be bothered by a little thing like that…

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