THE BBC is refusing to say which pro-independence groups it contacted about its Scottish “Question Time” show prior to our front page story yesterday.

SNP depute leader Keith Brown accused the broadcaster of “desperately trying to cover its tracks” in its response – and said it needed to “clean up its act”.

We revealed yesterday that despite inviting Scotland in Union to make its members aware of the application process for Debate Night, no pro-independence groups had been contacted.

Among the organisations that the BBC had not been in touch with were Women for Independence, the Scottish Independence Convention and Business for Scotland.

All three groups were contacted by Debate Night producers Mentorn yesterday morning, after our story was published, inviting them to make “grassroots” members aware of the application process.

However, despite only sending out these messages after our story was published, the BBC has now rejected claims that it did not contact pro-Yes groups.

READ MORE: Here's the timeline of BBC's claim to have contacted Yes groups

A BBC spokesperson told us yesterday: “It simply isn’t true to say that we failed to contact any pro-independence groups. We’ve explained fully that we have contacted parties and groups across the political divide and will continue to do so – but if people choose not to believe us, that’s a matter for them.”

We asked the BBC for details of which groups had been contacted, but they refused to comment.

We had asked them the exact same question twice on Thursday and received only this in response: “We appreciated The National retweeting the web address where the public can apply to be on the programme.”

READ MORE: Question Time's angry Unionist threatens to 'blow the lid on the BBC'

SNP depute leader Keith Brown hit out at the BBC, calling on it to “clean up its act”.

He said: “The BBC is desperately trying to cover its tracks.

“The fact remains that Debate Night specifically invited an ultra-unionist group, but not a single pro-Yes organisation until they were rumbled.

“Rather than trying to make excuses, the BBC should be cleaning up its act and sorting out audience procedures for Debate Night and its sister programme Question Time.

“At the moment, we could be forgiven for thinking these were written on the back of a fag packet.”

The National: SNP depute leader Keith Brown called on the BBC to sort out its audience selectionSNP depute leader Keith Brown called on the BBC to sort out its audience selection

The email to the pro-independence groups includes a flyer and reference to the BBC website for further information on how to apply, adding: “We would be looking for grassroots campaigners or activists as opposed to spokespeople or those who hold elected positions or office within your organisation.”

We understand that all of the main Scottish political parties were made aware of the application process.

Writing to National readers in today’s Letters pages, Debate Night executive producer Daniel Maxwell said he aimed to “dispel some myths about how we get the message out”.

READ MORE: Here's the first panel for the BBC's new Scottish 'Question Time' show

He wrote: “We have advertised the audience application process on BBC radio, TV and online, as well as through social media – and are very appreciative that The National and others took the time to retweet a link to our audience form.

“The team have been speaking directly to the hundreds of people who have applied to be part of Debate Night for our opening programmes. Some may be active in one political group or other – but many, like a lot of Scots, have a complex voting history across the party spectrum.

“The audience will represent a cross-section of Scottish opinion, and the BBC have discussed the make-up of audiences with all the larger political parties over the past few weeks. We do not pick the audience based on the number of applications from any particular group.”

Debate Night will be hosted by Stephen Jardine, and will in effect be a Scottish version of the BBC’s Question Time.

The show will not tour the country, however, instead being hosted exclusively from Edinburgh due to budget constraints.