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If you visit the BBC Complaints website to report the article on Harry Smith’s speech (see BBC uses unattributed quotes from Tory ministers and reports them as facts – Pride’s Purge), you may find yourself making another complaint also.

The complaint site’s reception page features a link to a report on Nick Robinson’s now-infamous piece of fiction about Scotland’s then-First Minister, Alex Salmond. Here’s what it states:

“We received complaints from viewers who felt Nick Robinson’s report on the Scottish First Minister’s press conference implied that Alex Salmond had not answered a question put to him.

“The BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson asked Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond two questions at his press conference on Thursday 11th September. The first question centred on the tax implications of RBS moving its legal headquarters to London; the second on why voters should trust a politician rather than businessmen.

“Nick Robinson’s report showed the second question on trust, with a script line noting that Mr Salmond had not answered that point.

“Mr Salmond’s answer on tax was lengthy. Since it was not possible to use it in full in a short news report, a series of clips were included making his central points – the job implications of the re-location of RBS, the accusation that the Treasury broke rules by briefing market sensitive information and his request that the BBC should co-operate with an enquiry. In addition Nick Robinson’s script pointed out that the First Minister said there would be no loss of tax revenue.

“The BBC considers that the questions were valid and the overall report balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.”

This is not acceptable, for one obvious reason: Robinson’s report states, clearly, “He didn’t answer.” If the BBC Complaints people are saying the answer was “lengthy”, this clearly conflicts with what Robinson stated in the report – yet the BBC’s judgement is that “the overall report [was] balanced and impartial”.

What a lot of nonsense! No – it’s worse than nonsense. It’s a flat-out, blatant lie.

Having read this piece of make-believe, Yr Obdt Srvt sent in a complaint about it as follows: “You claimed that ‘Mr Salmond’s answer on tax was lengthy. Since it was not possible to use it in full in a short news report, a series of clips were included making his central points […] In addition Nick Robinson’s script pointed out that the First Minister said there would be no loss of tax revenue. The BBC considers that the questions were valid and the overall report balanced and impartial, in line with our editorial guidelines.’

“In fact, the report states: ‘He didn’t answer.’ Even if the report did feature a series of clips putting his points across, the message ‘He didn’t answer’ is what people heard. As you yourselves have stated that he not only answered but answered at length, it is clear that Robinson lied to the viewing public and his report was false.

How does “He didn’t answer” put across the main points of a seven-minute reply? It doesn’t. Your response to the complaint about Mr Robinson is therefore misleading.

Undoubtedly, you will want to complain (yet again!) to the BBC. Here are the necessary details (again):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/

Phone: 03700 100 222 *
03700 100 212 * (textphone)
*24 hours, charged as 01/02 geographic numbers

Post:BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR

Perhaps Vox Political should put up a permanent page – ‘How to complain about biased BBC news coverage’?

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