BBC must stop! Airing Sturgeon’s daily briefings before election branded ‘irresponsible’

UK borders ‘still a bit too leaky’ says Nicola Sturgeon

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Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser warned allowing Ms Sturgeon’s briefings to go ahead would give the SNP leader an unfair advantage in the campaign if the Beeb refused to cut her airtime. Ms Sturgeon has made clear she has no intention of delegating the task in the weeks before the May 6 Scottish Parliament elections.

Mr Fraser said it would be nearly impossible for the BBC to allocate the same amount of airtime to other party leaders each day while Ms Sturgeon leads the hour-long press conferences.

He told Express.co.uk: “For that reason, they must stop broadcasting these briefings.”

The broadcaster’s rulebook states that “special considerations apply” over impartiality during election campaigns.

Mr Fraser said Ms Sturgeon’s insistence that she should be the one to present the briefings during the election campaign should pose a “serious question” for the BBC.

He explained: “It would be utterly irresponsible for the BBC as a public service broadcaster to be continuing to broadcast these briefings with her without giving equal time to the opposition parties.

“I’m sure that Nicola Sturgeon and her team are well aware of the advantage they have by having that daily briefing broadcast live to the country and they will be desperate to hang onto that if they possibly can.”

Labour peer Lord Foulkes has written to the BBC’s director-general, Tim Davie, urging him to not air the briefings as Scottish voters prepare to go to the ballot box.

Mr Fraser said there is no credible reason why Ms Sturgeon cannot temporarily step down from the podium and allow a civil servant to take the lead.

He said: “I think it would be utterly unacceptable for the briefings to be presented by the First Minister as we get into the election period because it would give her a platform not available to any other party leader in the campaign.

“And there’s no reason why the briefings could not continue and be presented by a senior official such as the chief medical officer or the chief scientific officer.

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“Both of them are quite capable of delivering these briefings.

“It doesn’t need to be a politician, it doesn’t need to be the First Minister.”

The briefings are used to provide updates to the public on coronavirus deaths, infection rates and any change in restrictions.

Journalists are also given the opportunity to quiz Ms Sturgeon at the events which are broadcast on the BBC Scotland channel.

Rules set out by Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, state that output by the BBC must be politically impartial.

Asked whether she would be disappearing from the briefings in the run-up to the elections, Ms Sturgeon said she would not “stop doing my job”.

She said: “What the BBC broadcasts is not a matter for me, it is a matter for the BBC and obviously purdah rules take effect . . .

“[But] at a time like this I am not going to stop doing my job because it is really important as we steer the country through this pandemic that it has my complete undivided focus, and that is what it has every day, so I am not going to stop doing my job for as long as I am in this job.”

A spokesperson for the BBC said: “We’re still planning our election coverage and will announce in due course.”

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