By a Newsnet reporter
Yesterday Newsnet Scotland published an email from Leveson that appeared to cast doubt on claims by opponents of the SNP that meetings between Alex Salmond and Rupert Murdoch had resulted in any deal that meant newspapers like the Sun would back Mr Salmond’s party for the 2011 Holyrood elections.
The article contained a recording of an interview of Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon conducted by Radio Scotland’s Gary Robertson. Our reporter suggested that the interview was aggressive and perhaps a little non-partisan when compared to similar interviews with Unionist politicians.
Our claim resulted in a debate as to whether Ms Sturgeon’s interview was indeed overly aggressive in tone compared to earlier interviews.
As part of our look into the coverage of the Leveson emails by BBC Scotland we have prepared a series of video and audio recordings. These recordings will allow the reader to form an opinion as to the accuracy and balance of BBC Scotland’s reportage.
We begin with three interviews conducted by Gary Robertson on Wednesday 25th April, these are followed by the aforementioned interview with Nicola Sturgeon.
We have prepared a basic guide to each individual's party involvement in the BskyB bid according to the Leveson emails. This will allow readers to form a judgement as to whether or not those exctracts from the emails were pursued by Mr Robertson.
The first is Willie Rennie, whose party feature prominently in the series of Leveson emails. The emails contain a suggestion of support for the BskyB bid by the Scottish Lib Dems, including one MSP who claims the bid will enhance job prospects in his area. There are also claims that senior UK Lib Dems including Nick Clegg were also supportive of the bid.
The second is an interview with Conservative MSP David Mcletchie whose Westminster colleague Jeremy Hunt is facing calls to resign due to claims that he breached rules pertaining to his quasi-judicial role when scrutinising the BskyB bid.
The third is Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont. The emails contain claims that Labour figures were lobbying against the takeover bid by News Corp due to adverse coverage the party had received from the Murdoch press and were also planning to write to Vince Cable opposing the bid. The Mail and Telegraph newspapers also wrote to Vince Cable opposing the bid.
Here is Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaking on Friday. The emails contain suggestions that SNP leader Alex Salmond would be prepared to contact Jeremy Hunt to discuss the takeover bid. The First Minister’s said that his presentations would focus on the benefits to Scotland in terms of investment and jobs. Another email indicated that in March 2011, the Sun editor was keen to back the SNP after a dinner meeting with Mr Salmond, and had prepared a pitch in order to persuade his organisation's editorial team.
We now take a look at BBC Scotland’s coverage of Thursday’s First Minister’s Questions in which all three leaders attacked Mr Salmond over meetings with Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump.
We begin with unedited exchanges between Mr Salmond and each of the three leaders of the Unionist opposition at the session.
Here is how Reporting Scotland reported the exchanges to the tea time viewer on that evening’s TV news.
Here is how Radio Scotland’s Sarah Paterson reported the exchanges earlier that evening.
The striking thing about the clips is the way the First Minister’s references to Ed Miliband meeting Rupert Murdoch after the phone hacking scandal broke, and his endorsement of the Sun newspaper, are edited out of the clips.
The viewer and listener are left with the impression that Johann Lamont’s claim, that Salmond is the only leader to have met Rupert Murdoch after the Millie Dowler episode, is accurate. The viewer and listener are also left with the impression that Ed Miliband had not sought endorsement from the Sun.
Also missing are claims by Donald Trump, several weeks old, that it was in fact Jack McConnell who initially made promises to the US tycoon over wind farms.
These are only snapshots of the BBC Scotland’s reporting of the Leveson emails, however we believe they are an accurate representation of the corporation’s overall handling of the story in Scotland and its apparent desire to play down those aspects that might prove damaging to the SNP’s opponents.
Readers of Newsnet Scotland are invited to form their own opinion and of course, unlike BBC Scotland where comment is all but barred on Scottish political matters (unique in the UK), post their views on comments beneath this article.