BBC judges Robinson’s falsified report as ‘balanced and impartial’. Outrageous.

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):

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

Post:BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922

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

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8 thoughts on “BBC judges Robinson’s falsified report as ‘balanced and impartial’. Outrageous.

  1. Steve Kind

    Just got this:

    “Dear Mr Kind

    We are sorry that you were not satisfied with our earlier response to your complaint and appreciate that you felt strongly enough to contact us again about the matter.

    In these circumstances we aim to investigate and reply to you normally within up to 20 working days (around four weeks) but will contact you if we believe it may take longer. The time needed at this stage depends on the detail of the issues needing investigation, practical issues such as whether a production team is available or away on location and how many other complaints are also having to be investigated.

    We aim to use your licence fee as efficiently as we can, so if you have complained about the same issues as others we will send our response to you and everyone. We may also not investigate or reply in great detail if a complaint doesn’t suggest a potential breach of BBC standards, or a significant issue of general importance. This is in line with the BBC Trust’s complaints procedures which you can read at:

    This acknowledgment is automatically generated from an unmonitored address so please don’t reply. If you think you’ve received this in error please contact us using our webform at, quoting your case reference number.

    We attach the text and case reference number of your complaint below for your records:



    Complaint Summary: Complete nonsense response

    Full Complaint: Your statement that Nivk Robinson’s report on the Firs Minister of Scotland’s press conference does not stand up to any sort of scrutiny. Robinson clearly, and as a lynchpin of his analysis, stated that the first minister had failed to respond to a question – which the actual footage shows to have been clearly and comprehensively answered. Robinson’s statement that the First Minister had not answered was, at best, a statement of Robinson’s own opinion, not qualified as such, and at worst was a downright lie. Your response to previous complaints simply does not address this issue.


    Thank you again for contacting us,

    BBC Complaints team

    Please note: this email is sent from an unmonitored address so please don’t reply. If necessary please contact us through our webform (please include your case reference number).”

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      That’s what I got, although obviously the details of the complaint were in my words.
      Did you actually complain earlier? I didn’t, so I was fascinated to read that the BBC had responded to a complaint I hadn’t made.

  2. Joan Edington

    They will get away with this one simply because Nick Robinson tagged the 2nd question “why voters should trust a politician rather than businessmen” onto the actual question. Although the real nitty-gritty was answered at length, they will say he didn’t answer yes or no to the totally ludicrous 2nd one. That was purely a personal snipe at Salmond that was noted by the international media present when they chose who to applaud.

    By the way, Salmond is still the First Minister until the SNP party conference.

    1. Steve Kind

      Well – “yes” or “no” wouldn’t be an answer to the question asked 😉 He was actually asking Salmond for an *opinion* – which he gave.

  3. Steve Kind

    Weasel words :

    “Dear Mr Kind

    Thanks for contacting us about BBC News on 11th September 2014.

    Nick Robinson’s report began with a clip of Mr Salmond predicting victory at his press conference. He then described the hurdles Mr Salmond had to overcome – “all that confidence (of a Yes vote) despite a steady drumbeat of warnings of the economic risks of independence.”

    Our political editor referred to “four banks” which had said they would move their legal base from Scotland to England and reported that “today a series of high street retailers warned of a possible impact on prices in their stores of operating across a new border.” He named Asda and John Lewis.

    At the press conference, Nick Robinson had pressed repeatedly for Mr Salmond to answer his question on why voters should trust politicians rather than businessmen. Nick considered that the First Minister had failed to answer the point he was making.

    In his report, therefore, and clearly in the context of the issue of the warnings from banks and retailers he had outlined, Mr Robinson was shown on camera asking this question: “why should a Scottish voter believe you a politician against men who are responsible for billions of pounds of profits?” This was followed by the script line “He didn’t answer but he did attack the reporting of those in what he called the metropolitan media.”

    In hindsight, it would have been clearer for the audience if he had said in his report that Mr Salmond had failed to answer that point, rather than that “he didn’t answer.”

    The key parts of Mr Salmond’s answer to a separate question about the tax implications of Royal Bank of Scotland’s plan to move its registered headquarters to London were shown in detail in the report. There was a clip in which he read out part of a letter from the RBS chief executive, stating that it was not its plan to move operations or jobs. In another clip, and waving the BBC report on the issue, he accused the Treasury of being caught ‘red-handed as part of a campaign of scaremongering’ – calling for an inquiry into the leaking of market-sensitive information and for the BBC ‘in its impartial role as a public sector broadcaster’ to give its full cooperation to that investigation. Nick Robinson also reported that Mr Salmond had said there would be no loss of tax revenues, and that it was simply a matter of moving brass plates.

    We are confident, therefore, that this report was balanced and impartial.

    If you would like to take your complaint further, you can contact Stage 2 of the complaints process, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit, within 20 working days of receiving this reply, and they will carry out an independent investigation. You can email them at: [email protected] , or alternatively write to them at the following address:

    Editorial Complaints Unit
    Media Centre
    MC3 D3
    201 Wood Lane
    W12 7TP

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      I have received exactly the same response and guess what? I think I will be escalating the complaint.

Comments are closed.