ITV’s flagship breakfast news show broke strict broadcasting rules on accuracy and impartiality during an interview with Nicola Sturgeon, according to regulator Ofcom. 

During an interview with the First Minister on Good Morning Britain in June, host Ben Shephard read out a quote which he said was from the party’s Sustainable Growth Commission report, claiming the SNP would have to impose “austerity policies” and “years of tight public spending” on Scotland if voters backed Yes at the next referendum. 

That quote, however, came from an analysis of the Growth Commission’s report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

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When Sturgeon attempted to correct Shephard, his co-host Kate Garraway ignored her and told her to "answer the question".

Ofcom launched an investigation after a viewer complained. In their findings, published today, the regulator said it breached broadcasting guidelines on accuracy and impartiality.

During the interview, Shephard said: “This report actually says that the loss of money from Westminster, were you to get independence, that is created by the Barnett Formula would mean that the SNP would have to impose austerity policies and recommends years of tight public spending to halve Scotland’s deficit and in order to keep the pound.”

Sturgeon replied: “The report doesn’t say what you’ve just said. The report explicitly rejects austerity, the report recommends that an independent Scotland should have real terms growth in spending rather than the cuts we’ve seen.”

Shephard waved a piece of paper at Sturgeon and claimed he was reading directly from the report.

In their written ruling, Ofcom said: “Mr Shephard was referring to a summary, written by the GMB production team, of a critique of the Commission Report produced by the Institute of Financial Studies.

READ MORE: Key points from the Sustainable Growth Commission report

“We therefore considered the statement was clearly inaccurate. David and Victoria “We recognised that Ms Sturgeon sought to correct the inaccuracy on a number of occasions during the interview. However, in each case, her correction was either dismissed or ignored by the presenters.

"For example, as described above, Mr Shephard responded to Ms Sturgeon’s initial correction by reiterating the original inaccuracy.

“Later, when Ms Sturgeon said ‘the report does not say what you said’, Ms Garraway interrupted and told her to ‘answer my question’.

“We considered that the inaccuracy in this case had a significant impact on the remainder of the interview. This was because viewers would have not known whether Mr Shephard or Ms Sturgeon was accurately reflecting the findings of Commission Report.

“This potentially left viewers with an erroneous impression that Ms Sturgeon was either unclear about the contents of the report or deliberately misrepresenting its findings.”

ITV said the error “was entirely unintentional and made in the heat of a live broadcast interview”.

They added Shephard was reading from briefing notes which had been prepared by the programme’s editorial team which were “insufficiently clearly written”.

The broadcaster was also found in breach of guidelines by Ofcom for failing to make an on air apology until four weeks after the interview was broadcast.

Their apology read: “On June 8 we interviewed Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, during which we suggested to her that the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission Report had said austerity measures would be required in the event of Scottish independence.

“In fact, the quote that we put to the First Minister was a summary of a critique of the Commission Report made by the Institute of Fiscal Studies, and not a quote from the Commission Report itself. We apologise for this error and for any confusion caused.”