TRIBUTES have been paid to veteran journalist and campaigner for Scottish independence Derek Bateman who has died aged 71.

After becoming a trainee journalist at The Scotsman while still a teenager in 1968, Bateman went on to become the political editor of Scotland on Sunday before joining the BBC in the late 1980s.

For more than a decade he presented BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme alongside fellow broadcaster John Milne, who died in 2014. 

The much-loved broadcaster retired from the BBC in 2013 but continued to comment on Scottish politics and independence, of which he was an ardent and long-time supporter.

Bateman leaves behind his wife, former BBC journalist Judith Mackay, and four daughters: Hannah, Clara, Eilidh, and Lucy.

The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon praised Bateman’s “warm wit”.

She tweeted: “This is such terribly sad news.

“Derek was without doubt one of the finest journalists of his generation in Scotland, both broadcast and print.

“He had such a sharp, insightful intellect and a warm wit too. My condolences to his loved ones.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney added to the tributes.

He said: “So sorry to hear this news. It was always a pleasure and a challenge to be interviewed by Derek.

“He was well-informed, incisive and courteous at all times. My sympathy to Judith and her family.”

Independence campaigner Lesley Riddoch also praised Bateman’s talent as a journalist and expressed her sadness at the news.

“Devastated to hear this terrible news,” she said on Twitter. “Derek was feisty, sharp, playful and totally unable to tolerate bullshit.

“Lots of love to @MackayJudith and the girls. I’m so sad tonight.”