Scotsman columnist challenges claims of bias within the BBC

A FORMER news producer at BBC Scotland is claiming it would be “fanciful to suggest that an individual journalist could get away with persistent bias [within the BBC] even if he or she wanted to”.

Scotsman columnist and University of the West of Scotland lecturer in journalism, Ewan Crawford, was writing a week after BBC Scotland’s Newsnight Scotland was accused of being biased in favour of the SNP, by Labour MP, Ian Davidson.

Says Crawford – whose career after leaving the BBC was as a special adviser to former SNP leader, John Swinney: “All BBC staff must abide by a weighty document called Editorial Guidelines which, among other things, commits news producers to the idea of ‘due impartiality’.”

He continued: “It was this commitment that prompted me to leave the BBC. During the first elections to the Scottish Parliament in 1999, Labour fought a negative, but very effective campaign. As a producer, it was my job to ensure this campaign was represented and scrutinised fairly along with those of the other parties.

“After the election I decided I didn’t want to do this any more so I left. That is a decision that has also been taken by other BBC staff members who went on to work for, or stand for, Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

“The fact that I and my ex-colleagues chose to leave suggests that the idea of infiltration [by political activists] is not that effective. Otherwise, wouldn’t we all have stayed to pursue the cause from within?”