Anger at BBC Scotland ‘misleading’ bank-bailout headline

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By a Newsnet reporter

Viewers have complained to BBC Scotland after a headline appeared on an article following an interview with SNP Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon in which she was asked how an independent Scotland would have coped with the banking crisis.

The headline ‘Sturgeon says an independent Scotland would have relied on UK for RBS bailout’ appeared on an online article despite Ms Sturgeon stating clearly that an independent Scotland could have coped with any banking collapse.

Newsnet Scotland understands that several viewers have complained about the ‘inaccurate’ wording contained in the headline after an interview with BBC Scotland’s Brian Taylor.

The interview, a podcast, saw BBC Scotland’s Political Editor ask Ms Sturgeon a series of questions posed by members of the public.

One question related to the bail-out of RBS and the Bank of Scotland by Westminster and how an independent Scotland could have coped.

Ms Sturgeon answered that an independent Scotland may have had in place an oil fund just as Norway has that would have allowed the banking situation to be easily managed.

The Deputy First Minister also pointed out that jurisdictions in which any bank operated would be responsible for any losses incurred and cited Belguim, Netherlands and Luxembourg as an example of how different nations co-operated in dealing with the crisis when Fortis bank was bailed out.

Ms Sturgeon claimed that Scotland and England would have dealt with the collapse in a similar co-operative manner.

“In the real world people come together to stabilise banks, so the BeNeLux countries for example came together to bail out Fortis bank.

“The fact of the matter is RBS is a Scottish headquartered bank, about ninety per cent of its activity is in England.

“Nat West is one of the biggest English banks.  RBS have money from the US Federal Reserve, from the European Central Bank from the Australian Central Bank.

“In reality, Scotland and England would have worked together with Scotland paying its full way to stabilise RBS and the Bank of Scotland.”

“… We would have come together to work together on that.” she said.

However the subsequent headline claiming Ms Sturgeon had admitted that Scotland would have “relied” on UK banks has been met with anger.

It comes as Chairman of the BBC Trust Chris Patten looks into allegations of questionable behaviour by the BBC contained in a dossier handed to him by the Scottish Government.

There are also growing demands that something be done about BBC Scotland’s political coverage with viewers unhappy at perceived bias and threatened cut-backs with shows like Newsweek Scotland facing the axe.

It isn’t the first time BBC Scotland has come under fire following an SNP conference.  In 2009, a private apology was issued to SNP Minister Alex Neil after views were attributed to him by BBC Scotland reporter Catriona Renton.

Ms Renton, a former Glasgow Labour councillor and Labour election candidate, had claimed in a broadcast that the Housing Minister had admitted he wanted the Conservatives to win the 2010 General election – Mr Neil had expressed no such view.

There has also been criticism of the corporation after former Labour activist John Boothman, who is the partner of a former Labour MSP Susan Deacon, was appointed head of news and current affairs at BBC Scotland.  Mr Boothman had previously been criticised for suggesting that Labour candidates receive media training to help with media appearances.

View the interview here, (Bank question starts 18 mins in): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-17325032