Media in the Press

Post-graduate Journalism student, Claudie Qumsieh, seeks out the media tales making today’s press…

The BBC has been accused of “outrageous bias” after inviting SNP leader and First Minister, Alex Salmond, on to the panel of the debating programme, Question Time. As reported on the front page of the Scottish Daily Mail, a formal complaint has been issued to the BBC by Scottish Labour, accusing the broadcaster of breaching impartiality rules during Scottish Parliament election campaigns.

The Mail reports that Labour will also contact communications watchdog, Ofcom. Salmond is the only Holyrood candidate taking part in tonight’s programme. The show will be broadcast from Liverpool and critics say this appearance will allow Salmond to make statements about his time in government with little scrutiny from an English audience who have little knowledge of Scottish affairs.

The Daily Record (page 9) quotes Labour MSP, David Whitton, as saying: “This is an outrageous example of BBC bias. One would have thought that an experienced broadcaster like David Dimbleby would know this is a clear breach of rules. We are in an official election period and all the main candidates should get equal access to the airwaves.”

A SNP spokesperson is reported to have said: “All the main parties in this election are on Question Time tonight and we don’t complain week in, week out, when the SNP aren’t on.”

The Daily Record quotes a BBC spokesperson, as saying: “Question Time achieves impartiality across the UK, especially in the run-up to a number of elections and a referendum, by a careful selection of panellists representing different parties over a number of weeks. There are clear and public BBC guidelines regarding the fair treatment of candidates in constituencies during election campaigns.”

Labour’s Peter Hain, former Conservative leader, Michael Howard, and Liberal Democrat, Chris Huhne, will also appear on tonight’s programme.

Adds the Mail: “The SNP leader also faces accusations of double standards after he took the BBC to court in a failed bid to appear on last year’s televised Prime Ministerial debates.” 

In other news, a reportedly former escort has had ban reinforced by a judge from revealing the identity of a “world-famous” actor, who is a married father, with whom she has allegedly had a sexual relationship. But, says the Scottish Daily Express (page 7), Mr Justice King at the High Court has allowed Helen Wood's identity to be revealed. Wood last year is reported to have enjoyed a tryst with footballer, Wayne Rooney.

Adds the Express: “In a hearing behind closed doors on Saturday Mr Justice Blake granted an order which made it a criminal offence to publish details of Miss Wood’s claims. The order came after the actor’s lawyers took legal action believing a newspaper was about to publish a story based on Miss Wood’s allegations.

“Yesterday’s variation in the injunction [in front of Mr Justice King] was won after it was challenged by a newspaper represented in court by Richard Spearman QC.

“Lawyers for the claimant said the judge ruled that he would not prohibit publication of revelations that Miss Wood 'had a sexual relationship with a leading actor, who is married and is a father and is a world famous celebrity'. But the judge continued the gagging order forbidding identification of the actor until a full hearing of his claim against Miss Wood or a further order.” 

The story is also reported in the Scottish Daily Mail (page 12) and the Daily Record (page 21), which describes the actor as “one of the most prolific actors of his generation, [who] enjoys a clean-cut reputation and proudly boasts about his family in public. He has even talked about how lucky he is to have a supportive wife. Despite his desire for privacy, he posts regular updates about his life on his Twitter page”.

In other injunction news, a married Premier League footballer is reported having gagged The Sun over allegations he slept with a former Big Brother contestant. Says the Scottish Sun (page 13): “The love rat got lawyers to ban us from naming him despite pals of lads’ mag model, Imogen [Thomas], saying he had told her she was the love of his life.”

Moving on, and as reported yesterday on allmediascotland, BBC Scotland’s head of news and current affairs is leaving, to join the Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICAS). Atholl Duncan has headed up the Scottish news operation since 2006. As reported in The Herald (page 9), a BBC Scotland statement says Duncan “helped deliver some of the highest audiences for Reporting Scotland in the last decade and driven up audiences for online news from 800,000 to 2.3 million. He also oversaw a period of increased audience satisfaction and reach for BBC News in Scotland and was instrumental in creating an award-winning investigations’ unit”.

Ken MacQuarrie, director of BBC Scotland, is quoted. paying tribute to Duncan’s “commitment and professionalism”.

Says The Scotsman business pages (page 2), Duncan joined BBC Scotland in 1984 and was managing editor of news and current affairs before leaving to join Scottish Water in 2003. He returned in 2006 to head up the Scottish news operation.

The story is also reported in the Daily Record’s Business 7 section (page 45).

ITV presenter, Holly Willoughby, is about to give birth, and her progress is being reported on Twitter by her This Morning co-presenter, Phillip Schofield – reports the Scottish Daily Mail (page 17). The presenter has been updating his 675,000 followers on the latest developments. Wiloughby’s friend, Fearne Cotton, has more than 1.5 million followers and has also tweeted updates.