YOUR front-page splash headline stating that the BBC has a news blackout on the First Minister’s trip is completely inaccurate (BBC blackout on FM’s trip to US slammed, May 17).

In response to a query from The National about online coverage, we gave details of our reporting of the trip. Despite the fact our response was received and included in the National’s news story, the paper chose to publish a prominent headline which misrepresents the facts. For the record, and for the avoidance of further doubt, here’s a breakdown of some of our coverage so far.

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

READ MORE: BBC defends Nicola Sturgeon America trip reporting: 'We provided significant coverage'

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.

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.

Good Morning Scotland covered the First Minister’s Nato comments on Tuesday morning with analysis from Phillips O’Brien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews.

Also, Reporting Scotland and The Nine ran full packages on Tuesday night, again featuring the First Minister’s comments on Nato and an interview with Stewart McDonald. For information Mr McDonald has since tweeted that the National’s assertion that we have not covered the trip is “daft”.

A request from BBC Scotland on Monday to interview the First Minister was initially accepted but then declined as it could not be accommodated within her schedule. However, we included a clip from her speech in our news packages.

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.

Gary Smith
Head of News and Current Affairs
BBC Scotland

I CONTINUE to be puzzled by Brian Lawson’s hostility to the Scottish Parliament Local Government Committee’s inquiry into allotments – or more precisely, into whether Parliament’s legislation has had a positive impact on their provision. The relevant legislation (Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015) promised much. After seven years, it’s reasonable for Parliament to ask if the Act has delivered what was intended, even if there are (as he suggests) bigger issues for the committee to discuss.

As someone waiting for an allotment since the year zero, I would have to say that the Act hasn’t delivered, and I would want our parliamentarians to think about why that is. My view is that the Act is too complicated, too full of loopholes for both national and local government and lacking commitment to the modest costs involved. The English legislation’s simple principle that councils must provide allotments for all suitable persons is worthy of a Sewel motion!

Of course, Brian, an allotment will not prevent someone having to buy food elsewhere (though I would not do it in the vegetable aisle of a supermarket, if a wee local shop had survived their onslaught…) But every little helps. And in the past three years, I would have hoped that everyone would recognise the health (physical and mental), environmental and food security benefits of being enabled to grow as much of one’s own food as possible. Why that is still not possible for everyone that wants to do so is surely a worthwhile thing for a Parliamentary Committee to explore.

Andrew McCracken
Grantown on Spey

LONDON Crossrail has just been opened, having run £4 billion over budget and three years late. The BBC does not seem worried.

The Westminster Test and Trace system during the pandemic cost £38bn and proved to be a failure. The BBC was not worried.

The PPE contracts were handed out to Tory friends and, on at least one occasion, a batch bought by a private company for £45m was sold to the Westminster government for £122m but has had to be destroyed because it was unsuitable. The BBC seems unworried.

However, the two ferries in Scotland that have run some millions over budget, and are behind schedule for completion, have had the BBC all over the story for a couple of years.

On Reporting Scotland on Tuesday evening, the first half of this half-hour programme was taken over by at least SEVEN reporters, plus their camera crew, giving us details of the Rangers fans arriving in Seville. Now, THIS is what the BBC calls important news. I would accept that a sports reporter needed to be there – but the decamping of the BBC staff from Glasgow to Seville, in such numbers, shows something about their priorities.

The Queen’s XI (as per Murdo Fraser) possibly winning a cup is considered to be so extremely important that so many staff are required. The loss of some millions of pounds by the Scottish Government is considered to be a horrendous disaster despite the fact that hundreds of jobs were saved in the process and that we’ll, eventually, have two new ferries to show for it. However, somehow the incompetent and possibly illegal loss of billions of pounds by Westminster is not worthy of mention.

The biggest evil, as far as I am concerned, is that the BBC is not in the least bit embarrassed by its transparent bias.

Alasdair Forbes