Newsnet Scotland can reveal that the BBC have been forced to issue a personal apology to senior SNP MSP Alex Neil after an item broadcast on Sunday 18th October attributed views to the SNP Minister that he had not expressed.
The BBC’s Catriona Renton, filming at the SNP conference in Inverness, had claimed on BBC Scotland’s Politics Show that Mr Neil had confirmed the SNP’s desire to see David Cameron become the Prime Minister at the next general election. The recorded interview with Mr Neil that followed Ms Renton’s claim contained no such confirmation.
A source close to Mr Neil explained that the MSP had subsequently complained to the BBC and had received an apology. However, there was a feeling of frustration that, unlike the inaccurate broadcast which came in the midst of the Glasgow North East by-election campaign, the BBC had refused to broadcast the apology.
Catriona Renton is a former Glasgow Labour Councillor, who represented Kelvindale before being ousted by the LibDems in 2003. Ms Renton went on to represent Labour in both the 2003 Holyrood elections and the 2004 European elections.
Ms Renton’s background is steeped in politics having worked for an MEP in Brussels as part of her Oxford University course. Her first job after graduating was working for ex Labour MP Dennis Canavan.
Catriona Renton was recruited by BBC Scotland's parliamentary unit in 2006, where John Boothman, husband of Labour MSP and ex-Health Minister Susan Deacon, was a senior producer.
Questions will surely be asked as to why someone with such recent and very close links to the Labour party in Scotland has been allowed such a high profile platform within BBC Scotland’s political department and whether her professional judgement may have been compromised.
Newsnet Scotland has contacted the BBC for an explanation of why the apology was not broadcast and what editorial control was exercised over Ms Renton’s inaccurate statement....the BBC have yet to respond.
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