BBC Scotland in spotlight again as second Foreign Minister claims EU comments misrepresented


  By G.A.Ponsonby
The BBC is facing more questions over its coverage of independence issues after another Foreign Minister appeared to question the interpretation placed on remarks made relating to Scottish independence.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
The BBC is facing more questions over its coverage of independence issues after another Foreign Minister appeared to question the interpretation placed on remarks made relating to Scottish independence.
Luxembourg has become the latest country to be caught up in the growing disquiet over BBC Scotland’s ongoing habit of over emphasising anti-independence sentiment in comments made by Foreign Officials.

Today, BBC Scotland reporter Glenn Campbell claimed that the small European Country, and EU member, Luxembourg was the first to come out against Scottish independence.

According to Mr Campbell, Luxembourg was the first country outside the UK to express a view on Scottish independence. 

Describing a statement issued by the country’s Foreign Minister as devoid of “diplomatic restraint”, the BBC Scotland reporter claimed that, “Luxembourg has warned against Scotland becoming an independent country”

The claims by the BBC man centre on a statement by Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn who said:

“As we are all facing serious economic and social challenges, this is a time for solidarity between Member States of the EU and within Member States, rather than for going separate ways.

“This being said, Scotland’s constitutional future is a matter to be decided by the people of Scotland.

“But its future within the EU is a matter for the whole EU and can thus only be determined with the agreement of all Member States.”

The reference to the EU and member states going their separate ways was interpreted by Mr Campbell as meaning Luxembourg was against Scottish independence.  BBC Scotland reported the “warning” on all of its main TV and Radio news programmes and online.

However, in a statement today published by Luxembourg’s English speaking news organisation Wort, a spokesman for Mr Asselborn has challenged the BBC’s interpretation saying the Minister’s words were misinterpreted.

Newsnet Appeal Update – Our appeal for funds to help pay for a full time editor continues to grow and we are now just £1000 short our £12,000 goal.

In one week we have received a staggering £11,000. Not unexpectedly, the appeal is slowing up a bit but we remain confident of achieving our goal well ahead of March 15th – our initial target date.]

According to the news organisation, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said that the nuance of the minister’s words had been lost in the BBC article.

“The BBC chose to present the position of the minister in opposition [to independence].  Whereas it was more nuanced than that,” he said, adding: “It’s a reflection which is valid for all member states, not to go their separate ways.”

In the article, it claims: “…there was no misunderstanding on the part of Scotland’s parliament, which interpreted the minister’s comment as directed at the UK’s anti-Europe stance.”

Last week Glenn Campbell was at the centre of another controversial handling of an interview after comments from the Latvian Foreign Minister were edited out of a subsequent report on Reporting Scotland.  The remarks by Edgars Rinkevics, challenged the view that the rest of the UK would automatically inherit the old EU membership if Scotland became independent.

Asked if the rest of the UK would have to formally apply for EU membership, Mr Rinkevics said: “I understand the commission and also colleagues from the EU legal services are also currently considering that so I do not want to make any comment vis-à-vis that part of the question, I think we need solid legal opinion.”

However on that evenings main news programme, there was no mention of the Minister’s view on the rest of the UK, whilst a comment suggesting a newly independent Scotland would need to apply was highlighted.

This latest claim will heap further pressure on the broadcaster which has already faced accusations that it misconstrued comments by the Irish European Minister on the same subject of EU membership of an independent Scotland.

In January, Lucinda Creighton suggested her comments had been “spun” and taken out of context after she gave an interview to BBC Scotland reporter Raymond Buchanan.  The original interview, in which Ms Creighton said Scotland would have to “apply” for membership after independence, received high profile coverage across BBC Scotland’s news spectrum.

Despite official follow up statements claiming she supported the Scottish government’s view, that a newly independent Scotland would most likely be able to negotiate its EU membership from within the EU, the BBC refused to broadcast Ms Creighton’s concerns over the interpretation of her original remarks, claiming they were “not news”.

[Newsnet comment – The statement issued by the Luxembourg Minister was reported in full by Newsnet Scotland.

We received the statement from Mr Asselborn, entirely independent of the BBC, on Monday afternoon in response to an earlier question we posed.  We also anticipated the BBC’s handling of the statement, and decided to publish after we heard Glenn Campbell’s report on Good Morning Scotland.

We have also received an official statement from one other EU member we will not mention and are hopeful of a statement from another, perhaps BBC Scotland is also expecting a reply from the same member.  We contacted all 26 EU members some time ago.]