THE BBC has rejected a complaint which claimed journalist India Willoughby had been an “inappropriate guest” on BBC Scotland because of alleged “extreme views” expressed against SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

The complaint centred on an interview with Willoughby broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime show on May 2.

At the time, Cherry was involved in a dispute with the Stand comedy club in Edinburgh over the cancellation of a show she was to feature in.

The Stand had pulled Cherry’s event, claiming staff had raised concerns about her views and would refuse to work it.

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But after the SNP MP issued a legal threat to the venue, the Stand reinstated the event and said in a statement that its previous decision had been "unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination against Ms Cherry".

Amid the controversy, the BBC Scotland show spoke to both Cherry and Willoughby, a trans rights campaigner and journalist.

The May 2 broadcast first saw a recap of the interview with Cherry conducted the previous day. The SNP MP had said: “I think I’m being cancelled, no platformed, because I’m a lesbian with gender critical views.

“That is to say I think sex is immutable. Somebody’s gender identity is not more important than the sex they are born … I have never said that trans people should not have equal rights. In fact, trans people do have equal rights in the United Kingdom.”

The National: India Willoughby

Willoughby (above) said she thought the Stand had been right to cancel Cherry’s appearance, adding: “You say cancelling, Joanna has been cancelled numerous times and she’s in the press. She was cancelled supposedly in the last 24, 48 hours, and she’s been on Radio Scotland, I think she’s on the front page of the Times.

“There are umpteen interviews being conducted with Joanna, who has got lots of power … but unfortunately trans people do not have any power. We have not got any representation whatsoever.”

Willoughby went on: “To listen to that interview there [with Cherry], transphobia is a very middle-class, intellectualised form of bigotry.”

She claimed that, despite Cherry’s statement to the contrary, the SNP MP “actually is” against trans people and “campaigns against trans rights”.

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Asked why she supported the Stand’s decision to cancel Cherry’s appearance, Willoughby said that the gender critical views of the SNP MP should be seen as “no different than someone who espoused racism”.

“You would not expect a black person to negotiate with racists, or you would not expect a gay person to negotiate with a homophobe, so why do you expect someone who’s trans to sit down and have a …

“This is what I mean about it being a very intellectualised, middle-class debate. It all sounds very reasonable and pleasant, but when you understand what’s going on … these people want trans people eliminated, that is the word that’s being used, eliminated.”

A listener complained to the BBC that Willoughby was an “inappropriate guest” due to “the extreme views … expressed about the gender critical movement and Ms Cherry”.

But the corporation’s executive complaints unit (ECU) dismissed the complaint, saying that Willoughby had been presenting her views in “forceful terms”.

The ECU said: “The ECU considered it in the public interest to include an interview which put forward an opposing viewpoint, and did so in a way which gave listeners a sense of the forceful terms in which the debate over trans issues is often conducted.

“The ECU also considered that the interviewer was appropriately robust in challenging statements which some listeners were likely to have found offensive.”

It further quoted guidelines which said contributors’ views “may cause serious offence to many in our audiences”.

The guidelines go on: “The potential for offence must be weighed against the public interest and any risk to the BBC’s impartiality. Coverage should acknowledge the possibility of offence, and be appropriately robust, but it should also be fair and dispassionate.”