BBC rejects claims that it may be biased

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The BBC has rejected suggestions that it is reporting Scottish issues in a less than impartial manner after a Newsnet Scotland article highlighted presentations by senior reporters that contained several criticisms of the SNP and Alex Salmond.
 
The corporation was responding to questions posed by online magazine The Drum which had itself picked up the story following our publication of the article on Sunday.

According to The Drum the BBC refuted any suggestions of bias and said: “The BBC regularly shares the expertise of its key correspondents and presenters on a wide range of issues with newsroom colleagues – and frequently makes it available to the wider public via our College of Journalism educational Online site.

“These presentations on the forthcoming referendum in Scotland were aimed primarily at raising awareness of a complex situation for staff throughout the BBC. As part of that process we will continue to share contributions both from our own staff but also from external participants with an interest in the referendum, including the parties.

“All the presentations – which are entirely consistent with BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality and balance – have been Online and available for both staff and the public for some weeks. We totally reject any suggestion that they are partial.”

Doubts were cast over the impartiality of senior reporters after videos were published on youtube that showed attacks on SNP leader Alex Salmond’s referendum stance and the party’s aim of independence.

Edited clips of the presentation showing Brian Taylor and Andrew Neil

The videos were first highlighted by online blogger Mark MacLachlan who published them on his web site last Friday.

BBC Scotland’s Brian Taylor is shown claiming that Mr Salmond wants a second option on the referendum ballot paper as a “parachute” in case the Scottish electorate rejected independence.  Mr Taylor also questioned the fairness of the SNP’s proposed question and suggested that there was no mandate to press for devo-max.

His colleague Andrew Neil was shown heavily criticising Alex Salmond’s stance on Europe.

The videos were part of a group published by the BBC’s own online journalism site and were aimed at providing a watching audience of less experienced reporters a background to the Scottish independence referendum.

However there have been concerns that the presentations portrayed as fact that which was actually opinion and that many of the inexperienced English journalists in the audience will have been influenced into adopting a stance that is remarkably close to the line being pushed by Unionist parties.