Good Morning Scotland criticised over Porton Down ‘news blackout’

BBC Scotland’s flagship morning radio programme has come under fire after it ignored a sensational development in the ‘Russian Spy’ poisoning story.

On Wednesday, Good Morning Scotland faced a barrage of questions after its news bulletins ignored comments from Porton Down that appeared to call into question the honesty of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

News bulletins broadcast by the radio programme instead gave prominence to attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and gender pay gap statements from Tory PM Theresa May.  The Porton Down development was ignored despite the ‘Spy Poisoning’ story featuring on the programme in several news bulletins.


One of those to question the flagship morning news programme’s news selection was Lesley Riddoch.  In a tweet on Wednesday morning the writer and broadcaster asked why there was no coverage of the “front page news”.

Riddoch tweeted: “Boris said Porton Down ‘guy’ was certain Skripal nerve agent was fm Russia. Now Porton Down says it cant be certain. Of course Putin is still in frame. But this is front-page news b4 VIP meeting in The Hague. So why no BBC News coverage today? @BBCGaryR”

The tweet linked to an article from The Guardian newspaper which was headlined: ‘Porton Down experts unable to verify precise source of novichok‘.

Other users of social media posted similar messages with some highlighting similar criticisms of the BBC’s coverage across the UK: “Looking at my timeline today and yday, folk all over the UK now wondering about the BBC, and not just over this issue….”

Journalist Paul Snowdon tweeted: “I have been a newspaper journalist for almost 30 years. And I recognise where certain agendas are being followed. And some people might not like to hear it but the #BBCNews is absolutely following one now. Anyone who can’t see it is either deluded or agrees with it.”

The criticism follows near wall-to-wall coverage of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal on the BBC, with accusations levelled against the Russian authorities by the UK government featuring prominently.

However comments from the Chief Executive of Porton Down, Gary Aitkenhead, that called into question claims made in public by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have failed to generate similar high-profile coverage.

Aitkenhead told Sky News: “We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify it was a military-grade nerve agent. We have not verified the precise source …”

Two weeks ago, whilst appearing on German TV, the Foreign Secretary stated he had been told by a Porton Down official that they were “absolutely categorical” Russia was the source.

On Wednesday night the story escalated when it emerged tweets posted by the UK Foreign Office had also made the same false claims as the Foreign Secretary.

The tweets, which have since been deleted, falsely claimed Porton Down had made clear the nerve agent used against the Skripals had been produced in Russia.

The Skripal issue returned to Good Morning Scotland the following day with several news bulletins covering the issue.  One referenced comments from Boris Johnson himself who had reportedly “accused Moscow of trying to obscure the truth”.


Johnson’s false claims relating to Porton Down eventually featured in a high-profile interview on Good Morning Scotland on Thursday.  However despite the introductory clips suggesting questions would be put to Boris Johnson or someone from the Foreign Office, listeners were instead treated to the opinions of the former BBC Moscow Correspondent Misha Glenny who was described as an “expert on crime in Russia”.

Glenny, whose book McMafia is now a BBC TV series, played down the false claims from Johnson and his office calling it “a gaffe” and instead accused the Russians of “exploiting” the Foreign Secretary’s comments.  The interview is reproduced below.


The refusal of Good Morning Scotland to cover the Porton Down story follows a pattern in BBC Scotland’s coverage of politics in Scotland which has seen damaging stories involving the Scottish Conservatives played down or ignored.

Last year a short documentary produced by independent film-maker Alan Knight highlighted several examples of the broadcaster’s unwillingness to pursue Ruth Davidson on areas of difficulty for her party north of the border.


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6 thoughts on “Good Morning Scotland criticised over Porton Down ‘news blackout’

  1. bringiton

    No surprise.
    State broadcaster refuses to challenge state actors.
    He who pays the piper….
    And,no it is not us tax payers who call the tune,it is HM government and the present bunch of clowns in charge.
    Most of them shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near public service,being hostile to both concepts.

  2. Alasdair Macdonald

    This article expresses very well what was clearly a piece of propaganda by GMS.

    Following the Sky broadcast and subsequent tweetings and programmes on various social media and websites, the public pressure on the BBC meant that they had to respond. But the tenor of the programme suggested strongly that this was about ‘crisis management’ – the crisis being that HMG’s ‘story’ was falling apart. Hence we had the emollient blurring by the ‘expert’ Mr Glenny and the introduction of the word ‘gaffe’. On other programmes the previous day the idea was floated of Mr Johnson ‘mis-speaking’. And, we were told repeatedly, not least by Mr Aikenhead of Porton Down, that the Government had ‘other sources’. It was the patronising bombast of, “we know much more than you do but we are not going to provide the evidence. We are BRITISH and they are RUSSIANS”. We were being told, ‘know your place and believe your betters’.

    The BBC News and Current Affairs is a propaganda service in the way TASS was for the former Soviet Union.

    Incidentally, we were also told that North Korea is likely within a year to develop a missile which could reach the UK, but is unlikely to target the UK. A bit of dogwhistling to keep up the fear factor and predisposition to believe the line about Mr Putin being behind the Salisbury events.

  3. Jockanese Wind Talker

    Makes you wonder how (and if) The BritNat Broadcasting Corporation will cover the inevitable fallout of the UKs FCO and it’s most senior diplomat, BoJo the Foreign Secretary’s “gaffes” in their briefings to our allies in NATO, the EU and Globally.

  4. gregor

    UK Regime has probably deviously slapped one of those draconian DA-Notice’s on the BBC in the name of ‘national security’ (whatever that means).

    Coincidentally, publicly funded Stalinist state broadcaster BBC is not allowing ANY public comment/voice on ANY Skripal related news articles (BBC has a very bad habit of exploiting and abusing its public comment system, depending on its agenda). It would seem that the BBC has the same vile bigoted attitude as its boss, and believes that its subjects (plebs) should ‘shut up and go away’.

    Transparency and public debate is healthy – what are they trying to hide?

    1. gregor

      …and when BBC can’t control and dictate the pubic voice over the Skripal ‘event’ – it is overwhelmingly and rightly ridiculed by the public:

  5. M boyd

    Britain is finished for the simple fact that her best and brightest politicians are irredeemable opposed to her very existence. Davidson despite the hype is a second rate habitual loser.

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