The National:

THE BBC has issued a statement in response to our front-page splash today.

We revealed that SNP minister Fiona Hyslop's response to angry Unionist audience member Billy Mitchell had been cut down to just seven seconds.

READ MORE: Revealed: Question Time secretly edited SNP answer to Unionist plant

This was despite Mitchell being given 1:08 to rant at Hyslop about the SNP and independence.

The BBC responded to the story on the John Beattie show on BBC Radio Scotland.

They said: "BBC Question Time had to edit the programme for legal reasons. Ms Hyslop’s response to the audience member was broadcast in full. The subsequent immediate sequence which was a muddled exchange on an issue which could not be broadcast was removed.”

They also repeated an earlier statement about audience selection: "Given the strict rules on data protection, we’re not able to talk about individual cases.

"Although there are no hard and fast rules about how many times someone can appear on a Question Time audience, we want to allow as many people as possible the chance to be part of the programme. So we would not normally allocate a seat to someone if they had appeared recently.

"There is a detailed application process and a request for photographic identification, and every audience member is spoken to individually, sometimes by phone."

This response leaves something to be desired, unfortunately.

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

It clearly appears in the video (skip to around 14:00 on iPlayer) that Fiona Hyslop is continuing to speak, which would suggest her response was not broadcast in full, as is claimed here.

We have asked to see the unedited footage in order to verify the accuracy of the BBC's claim, however.

Furthermore, this statement does nothing to answer the question of why the BBC broadcast the rant in full and then highlighted it on social media.

Unionist audience members spoke for 3 minutes and 32 seconds during the show, and pro-independence audience members for only 53 seconds.

Why, when there was such a disparity, and if they were unable to broadcast the full exchange between Mitchell and Hyslop in which she refuted his points, did they keep his more than one minute long rant in the show?

Let's assume there was a valid reason, though – perhaps there wasn't a way to cut his rant out and still make the show work.

Why, after all the trouble that has been caused, highlight his contribution on social media? That only furthers the issue of Hyslop being given only seven seconds of response.

We await further answers from the BBC ... watch this space.