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11-minute blast

244 complaints to BBC over Salmond affair in briefing

Nicola Sturgeon at the 24 Feb briefing

The BBC has received hundreds of complaints that Nicola Sturgeon spent 11 minutes discussing the Alex Salmond affair during her televised update on the coronavirus crisis.

It said 244 viewers had objected after the First Minister was questioned by journalists during her pandemic update on 24 February.

The First Minister, who has always insisted that she sticks to the public health message, concluded the 68 minute briefing with an apology to those who were expecting the live conference to be solely about the Covid-19 crisis.

The BBC confirmed that it was examining complaints from viewers complaining that it was “inappropriate” to discuss the Alex Salmond inquiry.

The Scottish Secretary Alister Jack had already urged BBC Scotland to review the First Minister’s daily appearances in the run up to the Scottish Elections on 6 May, claiming they give her an unfair advantage.

In September, last year, the BBC decided to take a more selective approach to televising the briefings which prompted thousands to sign a petition for them to continue.

During the 24 February briefing Ms Sturgeon was asked whether she would give a press conference about the Salmond affair. She replied: “I’m laughing because it kind of feels as if that’s what I’ve been forced to do today.”

As she concluded the briefing she said: “As you know, I like to keep these briefings on Covid so apologies to those of you who tuned in to hear updates on Covid and have had to listen to my answers on another topic.

“I prefer to keep these issues on Covid but I hope you understand that when I’m asked questions about issues of the day, that are fundamentally about me and my actions, it’s also important that I try to answer those questions as fully as I can ..

“But I apologise to anybody who’s frustrated at the fact that not all of today’s briefing was entirely about Covid.”

See also: Support for union grows after Salmond evidence

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