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BBC bias claim

Replace Sturgeon briefings with expert, says Jack

Nicola Sturgeon at press conf 25 March

First Minister: should step aside says Scottish Secretary

Nicola Sturgeon should be replaced by a medical or science expert in the Covid daily briefings, according to the Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.

Mr Jack said that allowing the First Minister to continue fronting the briefings would give SNP an “unfair electoral advantage” in the run-up to the Holyrood election.

He has called on BBC Scotland to review what he referred to as the “Nicola Sturgeon Show”.

Scottish Conservatives have also called for a review of Ms Sturgeon’s daily appearances on the BBC, which claim have been used for political purposes. Daily Business last July questioned the First Minister’s presentation of the briefings.

Ms Sturgeon has insisted the briefings are focused on tackling the pandemic, but she has often injected criticism of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s priorities.

The BBC said last autumn that it would reduce its coverage to those judged to have “editorial merit”, a decision it later reversed.

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But as the Scottish elections in May get nearer Mr Jack says there is a need to rethink the briefing format.

The Secretary of State told The Herald: “The pandemic has given the First Minister a platform. I point my finger directly at BBC Scotland for that.

“I don’t think all of the broadcasts they have given her have been around Covid issues. When the UK Government have done those, they have involved scientists and chief medical officers and, in terms of the vaccination, Army officers.

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“That’s the right way [to do it], to allow the experts to speak. But this has been the Nicola Sturgeon Show and given her a platform.”

Asked if BBC Scotland bosses should now review the FM’s broadcasts, Mr Jack said: “I do. I have said this to the BBC and questioned, as we get closer to an election, if it is the right thing to do.

“I don’t dispute the public need to be informed but there are medical officers who could do that quite adequately.”



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