Alex Salmond brands Nick Robinson ‘a disgrace’

ALEX Salmond has hit back at BBC broadcaster Nick Robinson’s “ludicrous” comparison between Vladimir’s Putin’s Russia and demonstrations staged by Nationalists during the referendum campaign.
Nick Robinson in Edinburgh in the run up to the independence referendum. Picture: Lisa FergusonNick Robinson in Edinburgh in the run up to the independence referendum. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Nick Robinson in Edinburgh in the run up to the independence referendum. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The former First Minister also branded the corporation’s outgoing political editor an “embarrassment” over his coverage of the referendum – and even compared the corporation with former Soviet propaganda newspaper Pravda.

Mr Salmond said he had deliberately not criticised Robinson while he recuperated from cancer but felt able to speak out now he has recovered.

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The former SNP leader said yesterday: “To compare, as Nick did last week, 4,000 Scots peacefully protesting outside BBC Scotland as something akin to Putin’s Russia is as ludicrous as it is insulting.

“It is also heavily ironic given that the most commonly used comparison with the BBC London treatment of the Scottish referendum story was with Pravda, the propaganda news agency in the old Soviet Union.”

Mr Salmond, now an SNP MP, said he was glad the broadcaster has made a full recovery from cancer.

“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,” the former First Minister said. “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.”

Robinson was appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last week when he hit out at the reaction from Nationalists after a high-profile clash with Mr Salmond.

The broadcaster was embroiled in a major spat with the then First Minister at a press conference in the week before the vote against independence.

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He claimed the SNP leader had failed to answer a question on reports that RBS would leave Scotland after a Yes vote – prompting thousands of Yes campaigners to march on the BBC’s Glasgow HQ in protest.

“I didn’t think my offence was sufficient to justify 4,000 people marching on the BBC’s headquarters,” he told a sell-out audience of more than 500.

“So that young men and women who are new to journalism had – like they do in Putin’s Russia – to fight their way through crowds of protesters, frightened as to how they do their jobs.”

He said this is “not how politics should operate, either in the United Kingdom or in a future independent Scotland if there is to be such a thing”, adding: “We should not live with journalists who are intimidated, or bullied, or fearful in any way.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Alex Salmond has been quick to criticise Nick Robinson now and in the past, but he has never once condemned the bullying and intimidation of BBC journalists during the referendum. It cannot be right that in modern-day Scotland, independent journalists have to walk through protests just to get to work.”