BBC PR team rejects renewed Salmond criticism of Scottish referendum 'bias'

The BBC's press office has again rejected accusations of bias in its coverage of the Scottish independence referendum from the former First Minister Alex Salmond.

Salmond appears on BBC TV last year ahead of the referendum (Credit: Ninian Reid via flickr)
Salmond appears on BBC TV last year ahead of the referendum (Credit: Ninian Reid via flickr)

In an interview published today in The Independent, a year to the day from the 2014 referendum in which Scotland voted to stay in the UK, Salmond said he felt a "scaremongering campaign" had cost the pro-independence side victory.

He said: "I think what decided the referendum was the renewed scaremongering campaign, and the BBC was one of the chosen instruments of that scaremongering.

"The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express scaremongering I expected and discounted. They’re entitled to be prejudicial, short-sighted, right-wing lunatics. But the BBC is a different matter; it’s a public service broadcaster and it was doing it from a position of credibility.

"My biggest regret of the campaign is I didn’t anticipate that the BBC would be as biased as they were. I took the view that the broadcasters would be fair and square, certainly when you got into the campaign period, because that had been my experience at every general election."

Asked by PRWeek to respond to the article, the BBC press office quickly issued a short statement saying: "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."

Separately, the BBC is facing further scrutiny as part of the ongoing review of its Royal Charter - after the government announced last week that former Virgin Money and Prudential chair Sir David Clementi would lead an independent review into the broadcaster's governance and regulation.

Earlier this month, former BBC comms chief Ed Williams, now the UK CEO of Edelman, criticised the BBC's comms strategy through the Royal Charter review process so far - saying it was "fast becoming less Auntie, more slightly mad, deaf great-uncle".

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