BBC bias row erupts as presenter calls Nicola Sturgeon our leader

Rishi Sunak hails green freeport status for two areas of Scotland

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A BBC bias row has erupted after a presenter referred to Nicola Sturgeon as “our leader” during an interview with Rishi Sunak. The comment on BBC Radio Scotland’s flagship morning show was branded “jarring” by the Scottish Tories.

The Prime Minister appeared on Good Morning Scotland last Friday during his visit north of the border.

Host Laura Maciver asked Mr Sunak: “Are you pursuing a different relationship with our leader and with Holyrood from your predecessors?”

The PM replied: “Look well my view is of course Nicola Sturgeon and I are not going to agree on everything.

“But what I want to do as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is work constructively with the Scottish Government to make a difference to people in Scotland.”

Ms Maciver’s description of the Scottish First Minister as “our leader” has sparked criticism from the Scottish Conservatives.

A party spokesman told the Scottish Daily Mail: “Many listeners will have stopped in their tracks when they heard this jarring comment.

“Scotland has two governments and Rishi Sunak is just as much ‘our leader’ as Nicola Sturgeon is.”

BBC Scotland said the remark happened during an “unscripted” interview and that Ms Sturgeon should be referred to using her First Minister title.

A BBC Scotland spokesman said: “The interview was live and unscripted and normally we would refer to Nicola Sturgeon as the First Minister and leader of the Scottish Government.

“Throughout the programme, we made it clear that Scotland has two governments.”

It comes after previous accusations of pro-SNP bias by BBC Scotland.

Alistair Bonnington, who was BBC Scotland’s in-house legal counsel for 16 years, last year complained to regulator Ofcom about its “slavishly biased” coverage of the SNP Government.

He said: “If a ‘breach of the duty of impartiality’ case were brought against the BBC in the Scottish courts tomorrow, I would expect the BBC to lose, and lose comprehensively.”

Meanwhile, former BBC Scotland editor Professor Tim Luckhurst said: “Many of the BBC’s young journalists appear to have nationalist sympathies. Several former BBC staff have also joined the cause.”

Mr Sunak held talks with Ms Sturgeon on Thursday evening in Inverness.

It comes amid ongoing tension over the SNP administration’s demands for a fresh independence referendum and Scotland’s gender recognition laws.

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