NUJ Scotland steps into Davidson BBC bias row as calls for Lamont to speak out intensify

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Scottish branch of the National Union of Journalists has stepped into the row over claims of bias at BBC Scotland.
 
In an article on the union’s website, the organisation has expressed concern at what it describes as “the increase in intimidation and bullying of journalists”.

The union, which seeks to, “promote media freedom, professionalism and ethical standards in all media.” has decided to speak out after what it claims is an escalation of criticism and hostility aimed at journalists.

The NUJ’s intervention into what is a growing issue within the Scottish media follows claims by a senior Labour MP that a BBC Scotland journalist was biased against Unionist parties.

Ian Davidson made the accusation in a live TV interview against female presenter Isabel Fraser.  Mr Davidson also suggested the BBC Scotland journalist was part of a conspiracy against him after viewers were not informed that a fellow guest was an SNP supporter.

Davidson also revealed that the Scottish Labour party had made a number of complaints against the BBC, claiming bias.  Something a BBC Scotland spokesperson refused to deny in a telephone conversation with a Newsnet Scotland representative.

Thus far neither the Labour party nor Mr Davidson have produced any evidence to support claims of an anti-Union bias.

In what is thought to be a reference Davidson’s Scottish leader Johann Lamont, who has refused to comment on her colleague’s attack, the NUJ article says:

“More widely, the NUJ asks those in positions of leadership to consider carefully the implications of their attacks on journalists for asking challenging questions.”

The article adds: “If that is to be interpreted as bias, and therefore the journalist is deemed to be open to personal criticism and abuse, then the nature of public debate will be debased, and we will all suffer.”

Davidson’s party leader, Johann Lamont, has refused to condemn the comments made by the Glasgow MP.  Davidson, who earlier this year was embroiled in a row after claims he threatened a female MP with a “doing”, was described as a “hero” by former Labour MSP George Foulkes.

Now Lord Foukes, the Labour peer tweeted: “Ian Davidson is a Labour folk hero.  He puts biased, opinionated toffee-nosed media hacks in their place. Let’s have more!”

Commenting on the NUJ intervention, SNP MSP Sandra White said:

“The NUJ’s timely statement should be a reminder to everyone involved in the debate on an independent Scotland that they eyes of the world are upon them.

“There is absolutely no place for resorting to intimidation or making baseless claims of bias when confronted with rigorous questioning. We condemn anyone who does so without reservation.

“Johann Lamont’s continued failure to speak out on Labour MP Ian Davidson’s ludicrous behaviour is clearly troubling to a lot of people. Given that Ian Davidson has failed to produce a shred of evidence to back up his accusations, an apology from him is long overdue.

“How much longer will Johann Lamont remain in hiding and allow Ian Davidson’s actions to go unchallenged?

“This is not the way in which the debate on Scotland’s future should be conducted and it is extremely disappointing that Ian Davidson has still to be pulled up on his antics.”