BBC defends Andrew Marr after Nicola Sturgeon interview grilling triggered complaints

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The BBC received 161 complaints and allegations of bias against the presenter after he interviewed Ms Sturgeon on Sunday, November 29th during the SNP conference. Mr Marr received a backlash following the interview, with social media users quick to respond.

One claimed it was “biased” and a “disgusting performance” from an “attack dog”.

Others were quick to claim Mr Marr had simply held Ms Sturgeon to account.

The BBC presenter roasted Ms Sturgeon over the Government’s handling of tackling coronavirus and claimed there was a “gap” between reality and what she said the SNP administration had achieved.

Asking about her reputation on tackling COVID-19, Mr Marr said: “You have talked a lot of the low prevalence of coronavirus in Scotland compared to other countries.

“But when you look at the data, isn’t the truth that Scotland had the third-worst record of any country in Europe in the first wave?”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “The number of deaths in Scotland is far too high. You won’t hear me say anything different.

“I don’t think it should be seen as a competition, but since you’ve asked me, we have a lower death rate than England and Wales.”

Mr Marr quickly hit back, saying the SNP had “actually done worse than England in dealing with the COVID-19 second wave.”

He asked: “Have you let Scotland down?”

The First Minister was also challenged after Mr Marr indicated Ms Sturgeon failed to meet her key target of closing the huge gulf in school attainment between the wealthiest and poorest pupils.

The 161 complaints were revealed in the BBC’s latest complaints bulletin between November 23rd and December 6th.

In a statement about the allegations, the BBC said: “The First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon was closely questioned on topics such as her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the attainment gap in Scottish education, and we heard Ms Sturgeon respond at length.

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“Andrew Marr referred to two distinct periods in his questioning about the pandemic, the first wave in the Spring and the second this Autumn.

“Viewers were clear that Ms Sturgeon was being questioned about Scotland’s performance in the first wave before being presented with the most recent data available at the time of the interview.

“We don’t agree that the approach taken was biased or unfair.

“The Andrew Marr Show is known for its rigorous and in-depth interviews in which politicians and others in positions of power are held to account.

“The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was asked a range of challenging questions as were the other politicians interviewed on this edition of the programme.

“Every interview is different but we believe each showed the scrutiny, detail and due impartiality the audience would expect.”

Elsewhere in the complaints bulletin, Have I Got News For You received 105 complaints for “offensive humour”.

In total BBC Audience Services received 4146 complaints about programmes and 9214 altogether between November 23rd and December 6th.


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