FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has attacked the BBC over what he called its “clear misreporting” of an interview with Ross McEwan, chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland.

Salmond claimed: “The BBC are like the Bourbons. They have forgotten nothing and learnt nothing from the first independence referendum.”

His attack came after BBC bulletins and its website headlined the McEwan interview “Indy vote would still prompt RBS move”.

Salmond said the BBC provoked outrage two years ago in the final stages of the referendum campaign by reporting that RBS was about to move its headquarters from Edinburgh to London in the event of a Yes vote.

He said it then emerged that RBS had been talking about their “registered office” or the “brass plaque”, with no implications for jobs, which the chief executive had described as “a technical matter with no implications for jobs or investment”.

It was also subsequently found that the overstated leak to the BBC in 2014 came from a Treasury official in London.

Salmond said yesterday: “This morning the BBC broadcast a perfectly reasonable interview with RBS chief executive Ross McEwan, who could not have been clearer that he was talking about the bank’s domicile and its plaque, not its headquarters. Indeed, his comments that this would have no impact on jobs were reported.

“However, by the 10am news bulletins and on their website the BBC then headlined that the Royal Bank would move their ‘headquarters’ or ‘HQ’, which is an entirely different thing.

“In fact, Mr McEwan did not mention the word headquarters in his interview.”

Salmond added: “It is high time that the BBC were called out about their misreporting.

“To make this mistake once was outrageous. To repeat now is simply inexcusable.

“Independence campaigners should be clear that one thing is unlikely to change between indyref one and two and that is the blatant anti-independence bias of BBC news bulletins.”

In a statement, BBC Scotland rejected Salmond’s claim of bias. Our story on the website reports Mr McEwan’s interview very clearly and accurately, including quotes from him explaining that he’s talking about a possible move for the RBS ‘brass plaque’ and not jobs,” said a spokesperson.

“Some headlines have for the sake of brevity used ‘HQ’ as shorthand for where a company is officially based. The full context is then fully explained in the story.

“We totally reject Mr Salmond’s claim that our reporting of the interview with Mr McEwan is in any way biased.”

However, the story was gleefully picked up by the usual suspects in the unionist press.

Under the headline “RBS chief says bank would move HQ from independent Scotland”, the Mail Online reported that the chief executive “says the company will move its headquarters out of Scotland if the country votes for independence”.

The Telegraph said: “RBS would move HQ south in event of Yes vote in independence referendum,” while the Sunday Express website ran with the headline: “RBS would QUIT an independent Scotland because bank would be ‘too big for the economy’.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she would explore all options to keep Scotland in the EU, and said a second independence referendum was “highly likely” following the Brexit vote.

Some experts have suggested Scotland’s financial services sector could benefit from its continuing membership of the EU, providing a new gateway to the European single market for British businesses after the rest of the UK leaves.

McEwan said RBS would be “too big for the economy” in an independent Scotland and it may have to register elsewhere, but that the move would not affect the 12,000 people who work for the bank.

He told the BBC: “We’d have to make the same moves, I suspect, because the Royal Bank of Scotland, being domiciled in Scotland, would just be too big for the economy, even in the shape that we’re building.

“That’s around the plaque, it’s not about where our people are because we have a very big business up here in Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “As RBS has made clear, the location of their ‘brass plaque’ will make no difference to jobs in Scotland.

“The uncertainty our economy faces is from Brexit. That’s why our immediate priority is to secure our continued place in the single market and maintaining and strengthening our links with our key European markets.”