BBC Scotland accused of filming ‘faked’ Better Together leaflet handout


  By a Newsnet reporter
Suggestions that the BBC has been helping promote the anti-independence campaign Better Together have been made after a BBC Scotland news broadcast showed what it claimed was Better Together campaigners handing out leaflets to passing members of the public.
The news item, which appeared on the BBC on the same day as thousands of people took part in a march and rally in support of Yes, heard a BBC reporter tell viewers that the campaigners were “using leaflets to spread their message”.

The item showed a campaigner handing leaflets out to people who were portrayed as ordinary members of the public who just happened to be passing by.

However, online site Wings over Scotland has called into question the claims of the BBC reporter and has described the event as “bizarre”.  According to the site’s editor, Stuart Campbell who has obtained a recording of the news item, the episode has all the hallmarks of having been stage managed for the cameras.

He wrote: “These members of the public conveniently make up a box-ticking demographic mix of two men, two women, various ages and ethnic minority representation.  Nobody else is visible for 200-300 yards down the street,”

Mr Campbell added: “But on watching it several times we can’t shake the feeling that a performance is exactly what it was – a setup faked for the cameras, in which the state broadcaster must have colluded.”

The item was filmed on the same day that tens of thousands gathered in Edinburgh for a march and rally in support of Yes.  Estimates suggest around twenty thousand took part in the rally which culminated in a gathering on Calton Hill. 

The disproportionate amount of resource alloted a mere handful of pro-Union leafleters by the BBC was in contrast to the lack of coverage afforded the huge pro-independencegathering and will fuel speculation that the broadcaster deliberately set out to provide positive media coverage for Better Together which cannot command the same numbers in a public rally.

The suggestions that BBC Scotland has deliberately set out to collude with the Better Together campaign follows serious allegations levelled against the head of News and Current Affairs at the Scottish broadcaster.

Earlier this month former BBC Scotland presenter Derek Bateman revealed that John Boothman had attempted to influence the content of political programmes after being contacted by the special advisor to Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.

Newsnet Scotland understands that the BBC is currently dealing with a complaint related to Mr Bateman’s allegations.

In a response seen by Newsnet Scotland, the BBC dismissed the initial complaint and said:

“As Head of News and Current Affairs for BBC Scotland, Mr Boothman is in regular contact with members of all political parties and campaigns in Scotland. This is part of his normal journalistic activities.”

We understand that the complainant has refused to accept this response and is pursuing the matter.