Scotland politics

Former SNP leader Alex Salmond says BBC's referendum coverage a 'disgrace'

Alex Salmond and Nick Robinson
Image caption Alex Salmond and Nick Robinson had a public spat at a news conference during the independence referendum

The former leader of the SNP Alex Salmond has described the BBC's coverage of last year's independence referendum a "disgrace".

He said he was responding to outgoing political editor Nick Robinson's attack on "Putin-like" protests against the corporation.

Mr Salmond's comments came in his column in The Courier newspaper.

A BBC spokesman said the corporation believed its coverage was "rigorously impartial" and fair.

Mr Robinson, who is joining Radio 4's Today programme, publicly clashed with Mr Salmond at a media conference in which the BBC's coverage of a story about the possible relocation of RBS was raised.

A few days after the journalist's report on television, crowds of pro-independence supporters gathered at the BBC's Glasgow HQ accusing the broadcaster of bias and calling for Mr Robinson to be sacked.

In his Edinburgh International Book Festival appearance, Mr Robinson admitted that the row with Mr Salmond was "a source of regret".

But he added: "I don't think my offence was sufficient to justify 4,000 people marching on the BBC's headquarters, so that young men and women who are new to journalism have, like they do in Putin's Russia, to fight their way through crowds of protesters, frightened as to how they do their jobs."

Image caption Days before last year's Scottish independence referendum, crowds gathered at the BBC Glasgow HQ to protest

Writing in his regular newspaper column, Mr Salmond said Mr Robinson should be "embarrassed and ashamed" of his reporting of the campaign.

He also dismissed as "ludicrous" the comparison Mr Robinson made between protests by pro-independence supporters outside the BBC's Glasgow headquarters and the treatment of journalists in Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Mr Salmond, now the MP for Gordon, said that he had held off commenting due to Mr Robinson's battle with cancer.

He said: "I am glad that the BBC's Nick Robinson has been restored to health.

"For some months I have said nothing at all about auld Nick because it is unfair to criticise someone who is not able to answer back. Now he is back.

"The BBC's coverage of the Scottish referendum was a disgrace.

"It can be shown to be so, as was Nick's own reporting of which he should be both embarrassed and ashamed."

A BBC spokesperson said: "As we said at the time, we believe our coverage of the referendum was rigorously impartial and in line with our guidelines on fairness and impartiality."

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