Letter claims BBC “failed” in its reporting of Foreign Minister’s EU comments


    By G.A.Ponsonby
A letter sent by an official at the Luxembourg Embassy in London has accused BBC Scotland reporter Glenn Campbell of failing to interpret accurately a response given by the nation’s Foreign Minister to a question posed by the BBC Scotland reporter on the EU and Scottish independence.
In the letter, written by Chargé d’affaires Béatrice Kirsch, she says: “Whilst acknowledging that the BBC is usually excellent in their news coverage, it failed on this occasion to appreciate the nuance of Minister Asselborn’s quote and position.”

The letter was in response to a request for clarification after BBC Scotland reporter Glenn Campbell had reported the minister as having warned against independence.

In March, Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn had been asked by the BBC reporter to give his view on an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU.  The question had been put to the minister at around the same time as PM David Cameron had pledged to hold an in/out EU referendum on Europe.

In his reply, Mr Asselborn 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.”

Glenn Campbell described the statement as being devoid of “diplomatic restraint”, the BBC Scotland reporter also reported that, “Luxembourg has warned against Scotland becoming an independent country”

The BBC Scotland reporter’s claims featured in an online article entitled: Scottish independence: Luxembourg warns against ‘going separate ways’.

However in a firm rebuttal of Mr Campbell’s interpretation, Ms Kirsch insisted that Mr Asselborn’s quote was: “… not one of opposition but a call to all member states not to go their own separate ways.”

The Chargé d’affaires letter is the second indication from Luxembourg officials of unhappiness over the way the minister’s words were portrayed.  In March, English speaking news organisation Wort published a statement from a spokesman for Mr Asselborn that challenged the BBC’s interpretation, saying the Minister’s words were misinterpreted.

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

In the article, it adds: “…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.”

The letter adds to growing disquiet over BBC Scotland’s ongoing habit of over emphasising anti-independence sentiment in comments made by Foreign Officials and other figures abroad.  The broadcaster has faced accusations that it has misrepresented some comments in order to portray ministers as being concerned about the effects of independence and having doubts about EU membership.

Another who has complained about comments on Scottish EU membership being “misconstrued” was Irish minister Lucinda Creighton, who was interviewed by Mr Campbell’s BBC colleague Raymond Buchanan.

In January, Ms Creighton suggested her comments had been “spun” and taken out of context after she gave an interview to the BBC Scotland reporter.  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”.

This week Glenn Campbell has also been highlighting a view expressed by NATO that suggests a newly independent Scotland would be required to apply for membershp of the organisation.  However despite no realistic possibility of such an apllication being denied, Unionists have seized on the reports in order to attack the SNP and independence.