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BBC bias: Beeb accused of giving Sturgeon ‘free rein’ to attack political rivals

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SNP accused of ‘playing politics’ during daily coronavirus briefing

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The Scottish Government have been holding daily COVID-19 briefing sessions since March 2020 – which are broadcast on the BBC – where Ms Sturgeon is joined by cabinet members and clinical directors/scientists around three to four days a week. But Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross on Friday night accused the Scottish First Minister of using the briefings to attack Boris Johnson and other political rivals.

Speaking to, Mr Ross said: “So she’s using this platform not just to provide public health information that the BBC say she is doing but to give her a platform for party political purposes.

“Any impartial person must look at that and wonder why the BBC continues to give her free rein to do that.”

Speaking ahead of Boris Johnson’s visit to Scotland, Ms Sturgeon used the briefings to attack the Prime Minister’s trip last month as “not essential”.

Nicola Sturgeon said there should not be one rule for the public and another for politicians such as the Prime Minister.

He added: “Now she’s attacking her former mentor and long term friend Alex Salmond.”

The Scottish Parliament is set to be dissolved on March 25, ahead of the elections on May 6 which leaves a six-week campaign period.

During this period, Mr Ross argued Nicola Sturgeon should be replaced by a medical or science expert in the Scottish Government daily briefings, as otherwise the platform could give her an unfair election advantage.

The Scottish Conservative leader suggested if there were “vital public health messages that have to get out between now and the election” then civil servants or the chief medical officer could “get those messages out”.

He added: “In terms of the BBC, they have really got to answer how they are going to provide a platform for this public health information that does not breach the clear guidance there is in the short campaign period that begins when parliament rises and we have purdah.”

It comes after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack claimed the BBC had made matters worse during the pandemic by broadcasting the daily coronavirus press conferences.

When asked about the briefings today, Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s National Clinical Director said: “Of course during the pre-election period, public health advice would be crucial.

“We’ve not decided there will be two important moments during that pre-election period where the country will need to know what is happening with levels, with openings.

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“The parliament, the powers in charge of that will have to make some choices on what that will be.

“From my part, we will be available for public health advice, not for the politics but for the straight science during that pre-election period.”

A BBC spokesperson, added: “Our coverage of coronavirus and public health issues in Scotland incorporates a range of voices and perspectives.

“This allows us to bring news and views from around Scotland and beyond, involving politicians from across the political spectrum, as well as commentators, analysts and other experts.

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“We remain committed to having this broad coverage of voices and perspectives across all our news outlets on television, radio and online.”

The corporation stressed they were also “committed to delivering on our obligations around impartiality and we, therefore, hear from a range of other voices.”

BBC Scotland is still finalising its election coverage and will be announced in due course.

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