SNP sends 'patronising' email to broadcasters giving advice on how to quiz Tories over Scottish independence

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The SNP has written to senior broadcasters offering advice on how to quiz Tories and hold them to account on Scottish independence.

An email sent to senior journalists gives tips on how to make sure Conservatives are "tied in knots" during interviews on television and radio, according to The Times.

Senior Tory Michael Gove is interviewed on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show

Senior Tory Michael Gove is interviewed on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show

In the instructions, an interview by STV correspondent Bernard Ponsonby is cited as an example.

Ponsonby had taken Tory economy spokesman Dean Lockhart to task for arguing there should not be a second Scottish independence referendum because the SNP had won less than 50 per cent of the vote in Scotland.

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The SNP claimed 48 of a possible 59 seats in this month's general election, including disposing former Lib Dems leader Jo Swinson from her seat in East Dunbartonshire.

The email from the SNP says: "Bernard Ponsonby highlights how easily Tories, who try and asset that the SNP have no mandate for a second referendum, can be tied in knots.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is interviewed on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is interviewed on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show

"When interviewing them on the matter, please do not accept their assertions and move on.

"Boris Johnson and the Tories undemocratic and untenable position should be rigorously scrutinised."

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The note was reportedly described as "patronising" by senior members within the broadcast media.

John Toner, the Scottish officer for the National Union of Journalists, told The Times: "Professional journalists do not need guidance from any political party on how to do their jobs.

"How interviews are handled is a matter for the journalist and his/her editor

"The claims of all political parties should be rigorously scrutinised, and it is not acceptable for one party to try to influence the degree to which other parties and scrutinised."

Senior independence supporters have regularly accused the BBC of bias against the SNP.

The national public broadcaster was criticised by both the Conservatives and Labour for its coverage of this month's general election.

A SNP spokesman said: "It was disappointing so many Tories appeared unable to accept the [election] result or understand what it meant.

"We simply highlighted to broadcasters that the SNP won the election overwhelmingly."