‘Disrespectful’ BBC bosses ordered to Holyrood

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BBC Scotland chiefs have been ordered to appear before a Holyrood Committee despite initially refusing to do so, after the head of the BBC Trust intervened.

Lord Patten has stepped in to force BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie, head of news and current affairs John Boothman and head of 2014 Commonwealth Games coverage Bruce Malcolm to appear in order to face questions from Holyrood’s Culture Committee.

All three have now agreed to appear before a the committee today.

The embarrassing intervention by Lord Patten follows two refusals by the heads of BBC Scotland to appear before the Committee who wish to question the heads over cutbacks in staff at the BBC’s Scottish operation.

There have been significant concerns raised over the quality of programming and the BBC’s commitment to coverage of both the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the independence referendum.

Some former BBC editors have claimed that the cuts are causing “real damage” to news and current affairs coverage.

Commenting on the initial refusal to appear, the Committee’s Chair, SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell said it was “disrespectful”.

Mr Maxwell added: “There are a lot of questions to be answered about job cuts and of course the ability of BBC Scotland to cover current affairs and cultural matters if the cuts are implemented. But we should not have been in a situation where we had to write to Lord Patten and for it to take three requests to get senior executives to appear before the committee.”

Labour MSP Neil Findlay, the Deputy Convener of the committee, said: “These people are paid by the public purse and parliament has every right to call them to give evidence.

“It is clear that following the committee’s unanimous demand for them to return that the chair of the BBC has kicked a few backsides – it should never have come to this.”