TRUST in the BBC remains as big an issue today as it was three years ago, when Donalda MacKinnon took over as the broadcaster’s director in Scotland, according to the SNP’s deputy leader.

Keith Brown was speaking exclusively to The National after MacKinnon announced yesterday that she was standing down.

She became the first woman to hold the most powerful broadcasting job in Scotland when she was formally appointed in December 2016.

In an interview with The National shortly after she was appointed, MacKinnon said she saw part of her mission as regaining audience trust after criticism of the BBC’s coverage of the 2014 independence referendum.

“We take pride in the fact that the majority of our audiences still trust the BBC,” she said.

“However, there is a significant number still in Scotland whose trust we lost and I think there’s still a bit of work to be done in that regard. I think it’s part of my mission to try and address these perceptions, which may have led to that loss of trust. I don’t agree with some who maintain that our coverage was biased and lacking in impartiality. I think there’s evidence over the years of coverage – it wasn’t just in the run-up to the referendum although, of course, it did become quite heated at that point.

“Did we get it wrong, did our focus slip sometimes on either side of what was a very binary decision?

“Of course we could have – we’re human beings at the end of the day, but I do believe there was no conspiracy.”

READ MORE: 10 times Donalda MacKinnon didn't 'win back trust' at BBC Scotland

Brown yesterday wished MacKinnon well and said he appreciated her efforts – including overseeing the launch of the new BBC Scotland channel.

He told The National: “But, as noted by Donalda when she took the job three years ago, many people in Scotland lost trust in the BBC in 2014 ­– and this remains a major issue for the BBC in Scotland today.

“Fact is this major credibility problem hasn’t been adequately addressed by the BBC at all.

“The broadcaster has a long way to go in regaining trust.”

Brown added: “It will only be possible to do so with far greater autonomy and appropriate funding for BBC Scotland without interference by BBC bosses in London.”

During her tenure as director, MacKinnon was responsible for online editorial content, as well as radio and television, and oversaw the creation of the new BBC Scotland TV channel and its main news programme The Nine.

She will retire from the role in autumn, and said she had planned this when taking the job as she turns 60 this year.

A BBC spokesperson said: “As Donalda pointed out in her original interview with The National, the majority of our audiences trust the BBC.

“That remains the case and recent Ofcom reports, including its report into BBC News and Current Affairs last year, stated that the broadcaster has maintained its reputation among most people for trusted and accurate reporting.

“In Scotland, our news offer for audiences has been significantly increased with the launch of The Nine, and all of our journalists report the news in line with our guidance on impartiality, accuracy and fairness.

“As Ofcom itself points out, the regulator has never upheld a complaint against the BBC on the grounds of impartiality.”