First Minister pulls out of event
Sturgeon ‘regrets’ BBC invitation to join Far Right speaker
Nicola Sturgeon: regretted BBC decision (pic: Terry Murden)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has pulled out of a media conference in Edinburgh after former Donald Trump aide and Far Right campaigner Steve Bannon was also invited to speak at the event.
Ms Sturgeon was invited to take part in the three-day News Xchange event, which is being co-hosted by the BBC next month.
Ms Sturgeon said she believed passionately in free speech but could not be “part of any process that risks legitimising or normalising far right, fascist view” and that it was with “regret that the BBC has put me and others in this position.”
Mr Bannon was one of Donald Trump’s aides until August 2017, leaving the US government after losing his seat on the National Security Council amid claims of a power struggle among President Trump’s top team.
Since then he has continued to champion right-wing political causes, although his appearance at events has proved controversial. At the end of last year he was a speaker at a private event at Gleneagles, organised by Scottish business leaders.
Ms Sturgeon was due to attend a reception at the National Museum of Scotland on the evening before Mr Bannon speaks at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 13 November.
The agenda for the event includes a special edition of BBC Question Time, while the BBC’s Sarah Smith is lined up to interview Mr Bannon.
Ms Sturgeon confirmed her withdrawal from the Xchange event on Twitter, prompting a stream of comments, mainly supporting her decision.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister will no longer be participating in this event. Her office were only informed at the end of this week by the BBC of their invitation to Steve Bannon, and her attendance is no longer appropriate on that basis.”