How long must we wait before something is done about BBC Scotland?


By a Newsnet reporter
It’s happened again.  A story relating to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi appears to have been manipulated by BBC Scotland.
Yesterday Reuters released an interview with Megrahi in which the Libyan protested innocence saying the truth over Lockerbie would soon be released.

By a Newsnet reporter
It’s happened again.  A story relating to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi appears to have been manipulated by BBC Scotland.
Yesterday Reuters released an interview with Megrahi in which the Libyan protested innocence saying the truth over Lockerbie would soon be released.

The man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing described those responsible for his conviction as ‘liars’ and complained that his name had been ‘exaggerated’ by the west.

However journalistic integrity once more vanished when the phrase “exaggerated my NAME” became “exaggerated my ROLE” as the halting words of a dying man speaking a second language were blatantly manipulated by firstly Reuters and then the BBC.  Compounding the distortion, it has emerged that the Arabic word used by Mr Megrahi in the interview was اخترع which translates, not as “exaggerate”, but as “invent, concoct, contrive, think up, manufacture, fabricate”.

The online misinformation was followed by radio and TV broadcasts claiming that Mr Megrahi had complained that “his role in the bombing had been exaggerated” and “his role in the attack had been exaggerated”.

Megrahi had said no such thing and by the time Reporting Scotland was broadcast the online article had dropped the ‘exaggerated my role’ headline.  However the Reporting Scotland item still managed to insert three blatant pieces of misinformation when the reporter claimed that:

i. There is no mention of guilt or innocence in Megrahi’s interview
ii. Celebrations swept Libya when Megrahi arrived home
iii. Megrahi had been given three months to live

Let’s deal with these three claims in order.

There is “no mention of guilt or innocence in these dying man’s words”
This statement defies belief.  Megrahi calls those responsible for his conviction “liars” and clearly claims never to have harmed anyone and that the facts will come out.  Channel Four News insisted that Megrahi claimed innocence in the TV interview.  So why did the BBC Scotland reporter (Laura Bicker) claim otherwise?

Megrahi had been “given just three months to live”
This piece of misinformation has been repeated ad-nauseum by many news outlets including BBC Scotland.  It is untrue and is demonstrably so.  Why BBC Scotland cannot state, again as Channel Four did last night, that Megrahi was given “an estimated three months to live” is unknown.

One would have thought that a BBC Scotland reporter could at least get the basic facts correct given that the release of Megrahi is one of the biggest stories ever to hit Scotland.

“Celebrations swept through Libya” when Megrahi arrived home.
Nonsense and again easily demonstrated as such.  The airport celebrations that met Megrahi when he emerged from the plane that took him home were initially described by BBC Scotland’s Glenn Campbell as the “defining moment” of the SNP’s first term in office.  Mr Campbell also helpfully described the Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill as “the toast of Tripoli”.

The ‘crowd’ welcoming Megrahi home were to be expected, Libyan culture includes a strong sense of tribal belonging, those people were mostly members of Megrahi’s tribe.  There were indeed national celebrations going on that week, an annual student event that had nothing whatsoever to do with Mr Megrahi.  These same celebrations had taken place every year prior as Megrahi languished in a Greenock jail.

Any hopes though that the BBC had corrected their ‘exaggerated role’ misinformation were dashed this morning (06:59) when Radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson described Mr Megrahi’s words as “some kind of admission of guilt”.  Quite the most appalling misinterpretation on what the dying Libyan actually said and one that Mr Robertson should be called upon to explain given that his BBC colleague claimed that there was “no mention of guilt or innocence”.

This latest ‘mishap’ involving BBC Scotland is in keeping with the broadcaster’s coverage of the Megrahi affair since Mr Megrahi was released from Gateside Prison in Greenock.

Those who are unfamiliar with BBC Scotland’s handling of the Megrahi release should read our series ‘Megrahi, the media and the myths’ that deconstructed the state broadcaster’s coverage and exposed what we believed to be a not so subtle agenda.

More examples of the BBC’s growing credibility gap?

BBC Scotland’s questionable coverage is not restricted to Megrahi though.  Below are some recent examples of BBC Scotland editorial decisions that we feel calls their credibility into question.

The Scotland Bill
Newsnight Scotland covered the Scotland Bill last Tuesday (27th), or rather the Holyrood Committee scrutinising the Bill.  The introduction to the studio debate that followed was presented by Catriona Renton who described the reasons for the SNP opposition to the tax powers in the Bill as:

“But the SNP say the Bill doesn’t offer enough” and “they believe the Scotland Bill doesn’t go far enough”

This is not the reason for the SNP objecting to the Scotland Bill as it stands.  The core reason for the objection to the Scotland Bill is that the tax powers it contains will damage the Scottish economy.  In her first sentence, SNP MSP Joan McAlpine had to correct this appallingly ignorant misinformation.

The scrutiny of the Scotland Bill was not even covered by the ‘flagship news programme’ Reporting Scotland who instead decided that a Labour scare story (Abertay merger discussions) was more important so showed video clips of a Lord Sutherland who criticised the merger negotiations.

Al Gore
Former Vice president of the United States visited Scotland last Wednesday.  The Nobel Laureate and Oscar winning environmental campaigner was speaking at the International Renewable Conference in Edinburgh praising Scotland’s approach to green energy.

Reporting Scotland ignored the story completely and instead spent time on old firm fans displaying anti-SNP banners in protest at proposed anti-sectarianism legislation.  Someone called Dr Stewart Waiton of Abertay University (Yes Abertay again) was shown criticizing the Scottish government’s proposed legislation.

Dr Waiton’s appearance on Reporting Scotland was followed by an appearance yesterday on ‘Call Kaye’ where the programme again covered the opposition to the SNP’s proposed legislation on tackling sectarianism.  Some of the views expressed by this gentleman were extraordinary to say the least.  Quite how this nondescript man has managed to persuade the BBC to provide him with two platforms in order to attack the SNP may be explained by the blog he set up called takealiberty.

The blog was created late last year in protest at the SNP’s minimum price for alcohol proposal, or as Stewart Waiton called it “seeking to increase the price of cheap booze”.

Online ‘campaigns’
BBC Scotland’s fondness for providing a platform for new websites that attack the SNP continued last Friday when another ‘campaign’ was allowed airtime in order to attack the SNP.

One dynamic nation appeared from nowhere to receive ‘promotion’ in the form of an insipid interview from Gary Robertson.

To date we are not aware of any new website/campaign group with pro-SNP leanings being given the same level of access to these publicly funded platforms.