THE BBC has been accused of parroting “Virgin Money” spin after it reported that the nearest bank to Portree was 80 miles away – rather than the disputed 108 miles away.

It comes after Virgin Money announced the closure of several Scottish banks across some of the country’s most remote communities.

The bank has seen heavy criticism after 12 Scottish branches were earmarked for closure, including Airdrie, Banchory, Broughty Ferry, Cumbernauld, East Kilbride, Galashiels, Milngavie, Musselburgh, Oban, Portree, Stenhousemuir and Wick.

There have been calls for Virgin Money to reverse the decision which MP Brendan O'Hara said will “devastate” local communities.

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Now, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has accused the BBC of reporting a misleading figure twice.

In its evening broadcast of Reporting Scotland, the BBC stated that the nearest bank from Portree after Virgin shuts its local bank will be 80 miles away.

In its evening report, Reporting Scotland's Virgin Money segment stated: "Virgin Money, their brand of the former Clydesdale Bank, is to close 12 branches in Scotland.

"Those shutting include sites in Wick, Galashiels and Portree, where the closest branch will now be 80 miles away in Fort William."

However, Blackford said the real figure is 108 as the 80 mile figure is only if the ferry is taken.

A ferry, Blackford says, that runs just twice a day in the winter with the second sailing not getting Scots to the bank in time.

The MP said the BBC repeated this figure even after he asked BBC news boss Gary Smith not to repeat it, being reportedly aired in subsequent broadcasts.

Blackford MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, said: “With the @VirginMoney branch in Portree closing the nearest branch is 108 miles away in Fort William by road, not the 80 miles that @BBCScotlandNews just said on reporting Scotland. 80 miles is the spin by @VirginMoney if you take a ferry.

“I would expect accurate reporting by @BBCScotlandNews and I have raised this with them. The ferry via Armadale operates twice a day in Winter and the second sailing would not get you there in time.

“I accept that @BBCScotlandNews have been duped by @VirginMoney who are not only turning their backs on their Skye customers but they are not being straight with folk.”

Hours later, he tweeted: “I asked @BBCScotlandNews head of news Gary Smith to make sure this was corrected on the later bulletin. They failed to do so. The BBC have a responsibility to deliver accurate information and when they do not do so and it is pointed out to correct the record.

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“The BBC took the spin from @VirginMoney that misrepresents the distance on a return journey from Portree to Fort William by 56 miles.

"The fundamental point is the branch should not be closed when the distance to an alternative location. The BBC underplayed the distance.”

Announcing the closures, Fergus Murphy, group customer experience director at Virgin Money, said: “As our customers change the way they want to bank with us and conduct fewer transactions in-store, we must continue to evolve the role of our stores into places where we showcase our products and bring our digital services to life.”

The BBC has been contacted for comment.