Nicola Sturgeon sides with Salmond over BBC reporting spat

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has backed her predecessor, Alex Salmond, in his continuing spat with the former BBC political editor Nick Robinson, saying that her SNP colleague was not to blame for the dispute.

Salmond said this week that Robinson should be “ashamed” of his reporting during the Scottish referendum campaign, and his suggestion that he had not answered a question. Robinson, who is soon to start as a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, has defended himself, accusing Salmond of trying to “control the media”.

Sturgeon, in more conciliatory mood, denied such claims and, speaking about the political rally at which the two men first clashed, said: “I don’t think what happened there was Alex Salmond’s fault, but that’s by the by. That’s in the past. What I’m trying to do is set out rational explanation for way so many people feel so unhappy [about BBC coverage of the referendum].”

In a wide-ranging interview with the Guardian’s editor in chief, Katharine Viner, Sturgeon said: “Nick has reflected honestly on mistakes he made in his coverage of the referendum. I think Alex would agree with that. Let’s debate properly some of the issues. Let’s learn lessons, agree to disagree in some ways. And do that in a rational way.”

Delivering the alternative MacTaggart lecture at the Guardian Edinburgh international TV festival, Sturgeon spelled out her view that some BBC coverage during the referendum had been “partial or pejorative” either due to “oversight, ignorance or following the agenda of partisan print media”.

She accused the BBC of being led by predominantly anti-independence newspapers. Asked whether she would crack down on so-called “cybernats”, the abusive trolls who claimed to be SNP supporters, Sturgeon said abuse from all political parties should be stopped.

A BBC spokesperson said: “As we said at the time, we believe our coverage of the referendum was rigorously impartial and in line with our guidelines on fairness and impartiality.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Jane Martinson Media editor, for theguardian.com on Thursday 27th August 2015 20.56 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010