An SNP MSP has expressed her shock after BBC Scotland’s flagship news programme featured an allegation by a Labour MSP despite the Health Board describing it as “categorically untrue”.
Scottish Labour MSP Jenny Marra claimed NHS Tayside had awarded its former chief executive a payout of over £300,000.
Lesley McLay left the health board last week after going on sick leave in April, the day after being told she could no longer continue in the role.
Ms Marra told BBC Scotland: “I understand today that the golden handshake that Lesley McLay has received is over £300,000.”
However the Health Board immediately rubbished the claim. A tweet said: “There have been reports in today’s media claiming that former NHS Tayside Chief Executive Lesley McLay received a payment. This is untrue and we have issued this statement.”
A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said, “The claims made about any sum of money received by Ms McLay are categorically untrue.
“As with any NHS Tayside employee, Ms McLay received what she was contractually entitled to and nothing more upon leaving the organisation.”
Despite the unequivocal statement from the Health Board, BBC Scotland continued to headline the allegation from the Labour MSP.
The story led news bulletins on Radio Scotand and was top story on the BBC Scotland news page. It was also chosen as the lead item on the station’s flagship evening news programme Reporting Scotland.
Viewers saw First Minister Nicola Sturgeon being quizzed on the Scottish Labour MSP’s claim.
Responding to BBC Scotland’s coverage, SNP MSP Jeane Freeman, who replaced Shona Robison as Health Secretary in June, revealed her shock at the decision by the broadcaster to continue to headline the Scottish Labour MSP’s claim.
In a message posted on social media, Ms Freeman said: “Just because @JennyMarra tells @BBCScotlandNews she “understands” Ms McLay rec’d £300k pay off doesn’t make it true.What is true is @NHSTayside stating categorically she did not get a pay off. I’m shocked BBC has continued to headline this claim online & on #ReportingScotland”
The criticism of BBC Scotland follows a row over the BBC’s targeting of two pro-independence bloggers. The youtube accounts of Wings Over Scotland and Moridura were shut down after the broadcaster lodged multiple copyright complaints. The episode has led to claims that the broadcaster is operating an anti-independence agenda.
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