THE BBC has been plunged into fresh controversy with the sensational new revelation that Fiona Hyslop’s full response to an angry Unionist was secretly edited out from last week’s Question Time in Motherwell.

Billy Mitchell, a former Ukip candidate who has appeared in the show’s audience four times, was given more than a minute of uninterrupted airtime to direct his Unionist rant at the SNP minister.

But her response to him appeared to be just seven seconds long – with some in the Yes movement suggesting in the days that followed that her rebuttal should have been much more thorough.

However, The National can now reveal that her full response WAS in fact significantly longer, but was chopped out in the final edit by the show’s producers.

In the broadcast programme, Mitchell is invited to have an extended rant about independence, eventually ending with: “You’re losers. You need to get voted out and leave Scotland to prosper.”

Hyslop then replies: “I appreciate your point. A slight exaggeration. We had a white paper, whether you liked it or not, there were 600 pages of it–”

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The camera then cuts back to the audience, and host Fiona Bruce introduces a new questioner and the debate moves on.

Click here to see Hyslop's edited response, which is shown approximately 14 minutes in.

However, we can now reveal that Hyslop had in fact continued to reply at length, but as she was giving her answer Mitchell started to shout over her.

Host Fiona Bruce was happy to allow him to speak up, but an audience member told us that at one point during the exchanges he started shouting about recent allegations surrounding former First Minister Alex Salmond.

Court restrictions around the live case ensured that the BBC would be unable to broadcast the footage, and therefore most of Hyslop’s response to him.

READ MORE: Our questions for the BBC over Billy Michell's Question Time invitation

But producers will now be facing urgent questions over why they then made the decision to broadcast his initial anti-independence rant without a proper right of reply, rather than just axing the entire exchange with Mitchell.

Instead, Hyslop was made to appear as though she hadn’t been able or willing to respond fully to his points.

The BBC confirmed to The National that there had been a cut for legal reasons, but refused to say more.

These revelations add to growing pressure on the BBC over the Unionist bias on its show last week, and it comes at the same time as a fresh analysis of the show has also revealed the scale of the disproportionate voice given to Unionists in the audience.

The National:

Former Ukip candidate Billy Mitchell

In the first section of the show, on Brexit, one Yes voter from the audience spoke for 17 seconds – far shorter than Mitchell’s contribution.

The show followed this up with a question on independence, which was: “With the ensuing carnage created by Brexit, on what planet do the SNP believe Scotland leaving the union is for the good?”

In that section on independence, the audience were called on by Bruce nine times.

Only on one of these instances was it a Yes voter who was asked to speak.

Another occasion saw an audience member say they had moved from a Yes vote to unsure – and even though they stressed that they wanted to ask about food banks, Bruce urged them to explain the shift in their decision.

The other eight audience contributions were all from No voters – which includes a follow-up from the man who asked the question, after Bruce asked for his response to the answers.

Across the show as a whole, Unionist audience contributions took up 3 minutes 32 secs of run-time. Pro-independence viewpoints from the members of the public were heard for only 53 seconds.

This is despite Motherwell having an SNP MP and MSP, and North Lanarkshire voting for Yes in 2014.

Mitchell’s speech was the longest by any person from the audience, and no other was more than a minute long.

READ MORE: Why we shouldn’t let Question Time debacle obscure bigger problems

Across the show as a whole, Hyslop spoke for 8:24, and Tory peer Michael Forsyth for 8:18.

Pro-independence activist and supermodel Eunice Olumide spoke for the longest, with 8:40, but the vast majority of this came in response to a question over the Liam Neeson racism controversy.

Labour’s Anneliese Dodds was given 6:37 of speaking time, and journalist Hugo Rifkind 3:57.

The only substantial, prolonged interventions from presenter Bruce came as she challenged Hyslop on her pro-independence stance and Forsyth on his pro-Brexit stance.

Keith Brown, the SNP’s depute leader, said: “If the BBC is going to maintain the confidence of the audience it is vital that Question Time is fully transparent and accountable around its decision making.

“Day by day new details are emerging about last week’s programme, all of which are deeply troubling and not a good look for the BBC.

“Question Time has got itself in a real mess in recent weeks, and we will be meeting with the BBC to outline all of our concerns.”