THE BBC has dismissed a complaint about a broadcast of The Sunday Show which featured a former Scottish Labour councillor – without identifying him as such.

Professor Richard Kerley had appeared on the BBC Scotland programme on October 1 where he discussed plans for the Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council to close 39 facilities such as nurseries, libraries and leisure centres.

Kerley, considered one of the foremost experts on local government in Scotland, was a Labour councillor in the 1980s and stood for a Westminster seat in the 1983 General Election.

The BBC said that failure to identify him as a former Labour politician was not a breach of impartiality guidelines because “records show it is forty years since he last stood for election”.

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A summary of the complaint submitted to the broadcaster said: “A viewer complained that the programme failed to make clear that a guest, billed as an ‘expert on local government’, had also been a Labour local councillor.

“The ECU [executive complaints unit] assessed whether the output met the standards of accuracy and impartiality set out in the BBC Editorial Guidelines.”

The ECU’s conclusion read: “The guidelines say BBC output ‘should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities and think-tanks) are unbiased. Appropriate information about their affiliations, funding and particular viewpoints should be made available to the audience, when relevant to the context’.

“The guest in this instance, Professor Richard Kerley, is primarily known as one of Scotland’s leading experts in public sector administration and records show it is forty years since he last stood for election. The ECU did not consider therefore that misleading for viewers or lacking in impartiality.”

Kerley’s appearance on the Sunday Show had been flagged by the @msm_monitor social media account. Writing on October 1, the account said: “Kerley isn't just a former Labour councillor, he has maintained strong links to Scottish Labour for decades.

“He has been presented as non-political by BBC Scotland for years. The broadcaster has many such 'impartial' guests who appear again and again.”

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Alongside Labour figures including Anas Sarwar, Kezia Dugdale, and Sarah Boyack, Kerley did contribute to a paper by the Labour-linked Scottish Fabians think tank in 2013, something also flagged by the @msm_monitor account.

Kerley’s contribution focused on how to improve public services. He called for “a future Scottish Government to introduce and implement ‘policy impact audits’ for all future policy developments and legislative initiatives”.

He added: “Our public services – our Welfare State – have much complexity and often address hard to reconcile, even if desirable, objectives. Change here is not simply about cost and affordability – though both are important – but whether what we think we are achieving is actually being achieved. It is often not; and we could do better.”