THE BBC has claimed that reports of a “news blackout” surrounding the First Minister’s trip to America are “completely inaccurate” after facing criticism over the last few days.

Writing in a letter responding to The National’s stories about the lack of coverage of Nicola Sturgeon’s Washington DC visit, BBC Scotland’s head of news and current affairs Gary Smith hit back against the claims.

Sturgeon is in the US promoting Scotland’s links with the country, and has met with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, senior State Department figure Wendy Sherman and several others.

As of Wednesday night – two days on from these meetings – the BBC News website had not reported the contents of these meetings.

However, the site used a photo of Sturgeon with Pelosi to illustrate an analysis piece looking at the FM’s comments on Nato, made in a speech to the Brookings Institution in Washington days prior.

It was not clear why the corporation failed to report on Pelosi describing the First Minister as a “model to women everywhere” for her leadership as they met.

Stewart Easton, a former head of news at BBC Radio Scotland, said on Tuesday that coverage of the SNP chief’s visit had been “noticeably and wrongly absent”.

In his letter, Smith claimed the The National had “misrepresented the facts” and argued the broadcaster provided “significant coverage”.

“The First Minister’s trip was the lead story on the BBC News website Scotland index page for much of Monday,” he said. “It led on the warnings from the First Minister on climate change following the COP26 conference in Glasgow.

“This story carried several paragraphs of quotes from the First Minister and led the site for over seven hours.

“Later in the afternoon, following Alok Sharma’s comments on the same topic in Scotland, we updated the story to take into account his position.”

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He went on: “We then carried an online feature from political editor Glenn Campbell on the First Minister’s comments about Nato which also included quotes from SNP defence spokesman, Stewart McDonald, MP.”

Smith added that McDonald had described The National’s coverage as “daft”.

The BBC chief also alleged that the organisation had requested to interview Sturgeon on Monday but were told this could not be accommodated.

“Far from operating a ‘blackout’ as your misleading headline suggests, the BBC has in fact provided significant coverage of the First Minister’s visits across all our platforms,” he went on.

The full letter will be published in The National on Thursday.