THE former head of news at BBC Radio Scotland has criticised the broadcaster's coverage of Nicola Sturgeon's US trip, saying reports had been "noticeably and wrongly absent".

It comes after the BBC was asked to explain why it has reported little on the First Minister’s US visit on its website.

Previous visits to America undertaken by Nicola Sturgeon have been covered online by the corporation, including in 2015, 2017, and 2019.

However, the current trip, which has seen the SNP leader praised by House speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “real model to women everywhere”, has been largely ignored – sparking criticism from the former BBC Scotland news chief.

On the BBC News website there is no mention of Sturgeon’s meeting with Pelosi beyond a photograph, or her discussions on the “constitutional future of the UK” with Deputy Secretary of State for the State Department Wendy Sherman.

The above stories have been variously reported across the front pages of newspapers including The National, The Herald, The Telegraph, and The Express.

Stewart Easton, BBC Radio Scotland's former head of news and current affairs, said the lack of coverage was a "bad decision". 

SNP staffer Fraser MacDonald commented: "Bloomberg - with 8.2 million followers on Twitter - covers the First Minister's visit to the US. It hasn't yet made the BBC website..."

On Monday the only BBC report touching on the First Minister’s US visit focused largely on the Tory COP26 president Alok Sharma.

Under a headline reporting Sharma’s comments about world leaders’ failure to act against the climate crisis, the BBC said that Sturgeon had “also issued a warning over climate change, during a trip to the US”.

Though the article only mentioned the First Minister once more, a longer quote from her on climate change and a link to the Ukraine war were included in analysis from BBC climate editor Justin Rowlatt further down the page.

Commenting on the lack of coverage, SNP MP Peter Grant quipped: “Due to cutbacks at @BBCScotlandNews they obviously haven’t heard about this.”

He had shared a post from Pelosi saying it had been an “official honor to welcome the First Minister of Scotland”.

Grant is part of a slew of Twitter users who have questioned why the BBC has failed to cover the meetings between Sturgeon and Pelosi, and Sturgeon and Sherman.

“Hey @BBCScotlandNews - shouldn't you be headlining this news? Showing how welcome Scotland's First Minister is globally?” one user asked.

“@BBCScotlandNews ... nothing? Really?” another added.

A BBC spokesperson said that they had covered Sturgeon's US visit as a "lead story", before editing it.

They said: “The First Minister’s trip was the lead story on the BBC News website Scotland index page for much of the day.

"It led on the warnings from Ms Sturgeon on climate change following the COP26 conference in Glasgow. It was later that the story was updated following the comments in Scotland from Alok Sharma which then became the lead line.”

The BBC did not address why it has failed to cover the key meetings held between Sturgeon, Pelosi, and Sherman.

The National: Stephen Gethins and Nicola Sturgeon

Stephen Gethins (above with Sturgeon), the professor of international relations and former MP, told The National the US visit reflected "a relationship that goes back right to the foundations of the United States".

Gethins went on: "This is a significant meeting for the First Minister and underlines the importance of the relationship between the USA and Scotland. That is reflected in Scotland's diaspora that has deep roots in every one of the US's 50 states and played a prominent role in the country's development.

"It is clear from this meeting that this will continue to be an important partnership into the future as cooperation deepens in trade, climate change, research and culture among other areas. That is good for jobs and investment as Scotland's foreign policy footprint continues to grow.'

It comes after the BBC refused to explain why it had failed to cover the National Crime Agency's raid of Tory peer Michelle Mone's home as part of a probe into alleged PPE fraud.

In the latest development, Mone’s husband has admitted to having a financial interest in the firm at the centre of the allegations.

The BBC has still not reported on the incident.