IT was pleasing to read the letter from Gary Smith, head of news at BBC Scotland, in which he responded to the Wee Ginger Dug’s criticism of our national broadcaster for not giving due prominence to the Scottish Government’s report on the economic impact of Brexit (Letters, January 18). What pleased me was not the content of Mr Smith’s letter, but the fact that he was prepared to spring so very quickly to the defence of his news editing team at BBC Scotland in how they report our Scottish political news.

As a regular reader of The National I sometimes see articles and letters within it that may lead people to believe that BBC Scotland is inclined to exhibit bias against the Scottish Government and the SNP in how it reports on events that impact upon our politics. The Wee Ginger Dug’s provision to readers of his opinion on the matter is such an example. I think I might also have read some comment from others on Sarah Smith’s recent grossly inaccurate report on Scottish A&E waiting times.

While I personally take such allegations against BBC Scotland with a pinch of salt, I have to report that one recent occurrence did make me think that if I was a cynic, I might be inclined to believe that BBC Scotland could be accidentally leaving itself open to criticism of more than a squidgeon of bias in its recent reporting of some political matters in Scotland.

In the 4pm radio news broadcast immediately prior to the full Newsdrive programme of January 11, it was reported that the topic of the NHS had arisen during First Minister’s Questions that day and that the Scottish Government had been criticised about its handling of the NHS. A recording of a question asked by Ruth Davidson on the subject was then broadcast. Having heard this I then expected to hear Nicola Sturgeon’s response to it. Given that the BBC is supposed to be an unbiased reporter I did not consider my expectation to hear the First Minister’s answer to Ms Davidson’s question to be in any way unreasonable. For one reason or another, nobody in the news team at BBC Scotland appeared to agree with this point of view and when the broadcast of Ruth Davidson’s question was complete, the newsreader moved onto an entirely different subject.

I was left wondering if the absence of the First Minister’s answer being broadcast was due to an editing error or a deliberate decision on the part of someone at the BBC to make sure that listeners would not hear it. If it was the former, it seems (as Sarah Smith’s recent blunder would indicate) that BBC Scotland may need to examine the competence of some of its staff. If it was the latter then it may indicate a deliberate bias against the Scottish Government at BBC Scotland. If that should be the case, it is not acceptable from the national broadcaster. BBC Scotland has its headquarters on the banks of the River Clyde and the thought struck me that some of the news staff who work there may think that some of their listeners came down the said river on the back of a bike.

Given Gary Smith’s recently found zeal in responding to the Wee Ginger Dug, perhaps he might now like to enlighten readers of The National as to how BBC Scotland News can broadcast a question placed to our First Minister but not permit listeners to hear her response.

Jim Finlayson

I VERY much suspect that the letter from Gary Smith is a typical BBC exercise in subtle misinformation.

If the BBC has a “Scottish NHS in crisis” story, no matter how factually incorrect, it is repeated morning, noon and night. According to Mr Smith, Nicola Sturgeon’s report on the Brexit impact led its news across all platforms – in the MORNING.

No mention of any repeat when the BBC audience is its greatest during the BBC News at 6.

Richard Walthew