HATCHES were battened down at the good ship BBC Scotland last night after not one word about Lord Ashcroft’s bombshell poll – putting support for independence ahead of the status quo for the first time since March 2017 – appeared on its website.

The poll was reported around the world by Reuters, AOL UK, The Economic Times (India), Euronews, Politico EU, RTE and the Sydney Morning Herald.

However, the BBC said the decision not to put it online was in keeping with its editorial guidelines. That brought a wave of criticism on social media, with Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, tweeting: “Not on top stories. Not even in Scottish Independence section. Not under Scottish Parliament section. I know it is but one poll, but given Brexit fiasco makes this very newsworthy, for the BBC not to report it at all online is a bit odd. Maybe they will make up for it later.”

READ MORE: POLL: Scots want independence and they want to vote now

That wasn’t to be however, and Wheelhouse added: “It’s 11:46, at time of tweeting this. Almost 5 hours since the Ashcroft Poll indicating majority support for Independence was published and yet it does not yet feature on the UK controlled BBC’s Scotland web pages. What does that tell you about BBC priorities, people of Scotland?”

BBC political correspondent, Nick Eardley, responded to Wheelhouse’s “one poll remark” with: “Exactly. We cover patterns in polls, not individual polls.”

It did not stop the critics, with Pat Kane writing: “Ashcroft indy lead poll managed to make the front pages of Google News, The Independent, ITV news. As of 13.05 ... still hee-haw on BBC Scotland News.”

Grouse Beater added: “BBC – the missing news. BBC television news this morning, three Scotland falling apart items, (two on hospitals) and one on prisoners refitting a bus. No mention of Indy poll showing people in Scotland want independence plus another plebiscite to sign on the line.”

The National: Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse questioned the broadcaster's priorities Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse questioned the broadcaster's priorities

The BBC did eventually mention the poll in an online story about Nicola Sturgeon’s appearance at a Fringe show, around 12 hours after the results were first reported

Earlier, the official BBC line, which The National reported online yesterday, was tweeted by BBC Scotland News PR: “For those asking about coverage of today’s Ashcroft poll on attitudes to Scottish independence, the results of this poll were covered in an extensive analysis of polling trends from Professor Sir John Curtice on Good Morning Scotland.

“This is in keeping with our editorial guidelines which advise that the result of an individual poll in isolation should not be published as a headline story.”

So what do the BBC guidelines say?

In section 10.3.30, they read: “The result of an opinion poll should not be the lead or be headlined in broadcast or other output, unless it has prompted a story which itself merits being the lead or headlined [sic] and reference to the poll’s findings is necessary to make sense of the story.”

Section 10.3.31 reads: “Where there are doubts about the methodology of a poll or the bona fides of those carrying it out, appropriate qualifying language is essential.”

So, was the omission because the poll was such good news for the pro-independence lobby, or were Ashcroft’s “bona fides” suspect? He is after all a Brexit support and Tory donor.

The poll was reported around the world – newsworthy in itself – and the BBC has previously reported on them, including: “General Election 2015: Poll suggests political figures could lose seats to SNP,” and, “How is the ‘killing the SNP stone dead’ project going?” which political editor Brian Taylor answers with: “Not too wonderfully, it would appear, if one is to place credence in the poll of Scottish constituencies just published by the Tory peer Lord Ashcroft.”

Judge for yourself.