In a crushing reply to a Nick Robinson question at a Yes campaign event, Alex Salmond highlights BBC bias, basic factual errors in reporting and a possible breach of financial regulations.
Seven minutes that could have huge repercussions for the BBC as well as marking another crack in the No campaign’s crumbling edifice were played out yesterday during a heated press conference. BBC’s Nick Robinson asked two questions which Salmond addressed before turning the heat up, accusing Robinson and the BBC of heckling and noted that there would inevitably be an inquiry into a possible breach of financial regulations by BBC’s ‘Treasury Source’ when they allegedly briefed journalists on market sensitive information about the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Salmond has since written to the Cabinet Secretary to demand an investigation into the alleged leak, he also pointed out that the share price dropped overnight following the BBC report.
“I have here a screengrab from the BBC last night – I don’t know if this was you Nick or one of your colleagues, ‘a Treasury source told the BBC that it had discussed the plans with the Royal Bank of Scotland’. The Treasury officials or Ministers are not allowed to brief market sensitive information. Market sensitive information, and it’s a basic rule, can not be released prior to the market announcement at 7 am this morning. The Royal Bank of Scotland’s share price changed overnight. This is a matter of extraordinary gravity.
I’ve always respected and I would continue to respect the journalistic right to maintain and protect sources but I know that the BBC will want to co-operate with the inevitable investigation by the Cabinet Secretary into the briefing of this information, given that the briefing of information even if we weren’t in a referendum campaign, even if there weren’t purdah (pre-election) rules which were meant to apply to Government the briefing of market sensitive information is as serious a matter as you possibly can get.
And therefore I know that the BBC in it’s impartial role as a public sector broadcaster [audience laughter] will give full cooperation to the investigation.”
Robinson then insisted from the floor that Salmond hadn’t answered the question and the row goes on.