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Kezia Dugdale pulls out of BBC independence show

Kezia Dugdale  Picture:  Malcolm McCurrach

Kezia Dugdale Picture: Malcolm McCurrach

THE MSP at the centre of a row over appearing as a presenter on a BBC Scotland independence referendum programme has pulled out of the show, it was confirmed last night.

Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s education spokeswoman, had been expected to become a paid presenter of Crossfire, a Radio Scotland political show, due to debut this Sunday.

As revealed by The Scotsman yesterday, the arrangement had come under fire for contradicting a previous ruling by the BBC’s governing body that payments to Diane Abbott, a Labour MP at Westminster, for her part in a similar programme had breached guidelines.

Last night Ms Dugdale said: “I can confirm that I’ve withdrawn from talks – it was never signed and sealed but I’ve decided not to take part.”

The BBC’s editorial guidelines state it “should not normally pay MPs, or others clearly identified as representing political parties, for appearances or other contributions to any BBC output in which they are speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views”. They can, where appropriate, receive a “limited and realistic disturbance fee” along with expenses.

The corporation last night confirmed Ms Dugdale would not be presenting Crossfire. A spokeswoman said the show would “be presented by a journalist” with additional pundits.

The Radio Times had listed Ms Dugdale as a presenter alongside Andrew Wilson, a managing partner at strategic communications company Charlotte Street Partners, an SNP MSP until 2003.

The move had prompted criticism that the BBC was guilty of “dismal mismanagement” and “not knowing their own rules”.

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