A SOCIAL media storm blew up yesterday after Donalda MacKinnon, the new director of BBC Scotland, admitted that it had lost the trust of “a significant number” of people during the independence referendum.

In a wide-ranging interview, BBC Scotland’s most senior editorial figure told The National that it still had work to do to regain that trust.

She also pledged to look at how it could ensure that more of the licence fee cash raised in Scotland is spent here, after a report put the total at 55 per cent, compared to 74 per cent in Ireland, 95 per cent in Wales and more than 100 per cent in England.

However, soon after our front page appeared online, the tweets came fast and furious.

Most vented their harboured anger over allegations of bias during the indyref campaign, and some drew parallels between BBC Scotland and Labour in Scotland – what they saw as two branch operations of British institutions. Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan tweeted: “People ‘lost faith’ because the BBC campaigned against them. When the BBC admits that, then they can start to build bridges.”

Speaking to The National yesterday, Cowan quoted MacKinnon from the interview on BBC Scotland’s coverage of the indyref: “Did we get it wrong, did our focus slip sometimes on either side of what was a very binary decision? Of course we could have – we’re human beings at the end of the day, but I do believe there was no conspiracy.”

Cowan said it was an issue that was still unresolved: “When she said ‘they could have got it wrong’, at some point the BBC have got to go back and look at that process and satisfy themselves that they did or they didn’t.

“And if they did, then there’s something to be changed in the process so it can’t happen again.

“If you listened to people during the EU referendum campaign, those who wanted to leave were paranoid about this.”

Cowan added: “I sit on a select committee at Westminster where we look at these issues and we were taking evidence from people who were absolutely convinced that the BBC was biased towards keeping us in the EU.

“I kept saying to them ‘Why are you only aware of this now? Where were you during the Scottish referendum campaign?’ “If the [Remain] side had won the EU campaign a lot of people in England would be shouting about BBC bias as well.

“I’m not saying for one minute that the BBC has a policy here – all I’m saying to the BBC has go back and look at the programmes you broadcast, the headlines you wrote and go through them in some detail.

“They don’t seem to have done that. She [MacKinnon] is still saying ‘we could have’. Either they did or they didn’t and if they did they’ve got to go back and fix something.”

Comments and arguments continued through yesterday, but there were some voices of moderation on our own website, with Jim McNeill writing: “Folks, I think we need to get a grip here. This is as close to an apology as a senior BBC bod can give, it is momentous that she acknowledges the loss of trust, and that she agrees 55 per cent of spend in Scotland is not enough. Let’s give her a chance, she has earned that by speaking to The National alone.”

And Nelson Burns added: “EastEnders ate my hamster because someone on the internet told me so? I have a feeling that is about the sum of the general tirade. The comments on here are the kind of stuff that helped to lose the indyref.”