A key segment of a reply from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was cut from Reporting Scotland because the programme did not have enough capacity to show it, BBC Scotland chiefs have claimed.
The First Minister had been taking part in a five day visit to America where she promoted Scottish businesses and trade.
As the trip began, Ms Sturgeon was subjected to attacks from the Scottish Conservatives who accused the First Minister of ignoring her day job.
The attacks were reported by BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme Reporting Scotland on Sunday April 2nd and Monday April 3rd. The news items included an interview with Scottish MSP Annie Wells who was heard complaining that the First Minister should have been at home dealing with education and the NHS.
Asked on April 4th by BBC Scotland reporter James Cook for a response to the Conservative attacks, Nicola Sturgeon replied: “It’s rather hypocritical, this week when I’m in the United States, the Prime Minister is in Saudi Arabia, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is in India and the Secretary of State for Scotland is in Burmah so the idea that somehow for political leaders to take their country’s message overseas is wrong seems, if you’re a Scottish Conservative to only to apply when it’s the SNP.”
However when the interview aired on that evening’s Reporting Scotland, the key segment of the First Minister’s reply was cut by the flagship news programme.
Responding to complaints that the editing of the First Minister’s reply amounted to bias in favour of the Scottish Conservatives, a BBC Scotland official refuted the suggestion.
He said: “James Cook’s report was focussed on what the First Minister was doing in the USA.
“The clips from the interview, shown on Reporting Scotland, covered subjects such as the purpose of the First Minister’s USA visit and her response to points made by critics.
“It is a necessity, and editorially justified, to edit clips from a long interview for inclusion in a short news report.
“We do not accept that the use of the material from the interview in this instance was inaccurate or biased.
“The interview itself was broadcast in full on other BBC outlets which have the capacity to do so. We are satisfied that we covered the FM’s visit to the USA fairly, accurately and impartially.”
Speaking to Indyref2, one person who complained to the BBC said: “The Scottish Tories had been attacking Nicola Sturgeon for days using the ‘day job’ barb, the attacks were broadcast on Reporting Scotland. The First minister responded by pointing out their hypocrisy, it was cut from Reporting Scotland.
The complainant added: “It’s nonsense to suggest a lack of capacity was the reason Nicola Sturgeon’s reply couldn’t be broadcast on Reporting Scotland. The segment they cut was barely twenty seconds.
“If Reporting Scotland includes Tory attacks on the First Minister then it is obliged to allow the public to hear Nicola Sturgeon’s reply, especially if it exposes Tory double-standards.”