Catholic Church accuses BBC Scotland of bias

BBC Scotland top news managers are to meet the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland in a bid to defuse a major row over alleged bias.

The Scottish Catholic Media Office has withdrawn its co-operation from Newsnight Scotland. Archbishop Mario Conti attacked the BBC in a letter to The Herald for encouraging a “tabloid culture” in which it had been guilty of “gross insensitivity” to the church.

The main thrust of his attack was aimed at Newsnight Scotland and presenter Gordon Brewer over an item on the church’s position on the controversial issue of shared campus schools.

Conti wrote: “It [Newsnight Scotland] carried a sneering and aggressive interview on the church’s position on shared campus schools – failing to distinguish tabloid fictions from fact. We do not object to probing questions. We do object to rudeness and prejudice.”

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office, wrote to Blair Jenkins, BBC Scotland head of news and current affairs, expressing his “extreme unhappiness” with the Newsnight programme and declared he was withdrawing its co-operation until it got “fairness” from the BBC.

BBC Scotland controller John McCormick said Conti’s accusations were “unfounded and unjustifiable”.

He added that the issue of the contentious edition of Newsnight Scotland was the subject of private correspondence between Jenkins and Kearney.

Kearney told Press Gazette he was pleased a dialogue would now open with BBC Scotland and stressed the ban on co-operation only applied to Newsnight Scotland.

By Hamish Mackay

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