Scottish Conservatives complain to the BBC about ‘unfair’ coverage of the Scottish Government

Jackson Carlaw has claimed that the BBC are not offering adequate scrutiny of the SNP administration of Holyrood, according to the Daily Record.

According to a complaint the Scottish Conservatives have filed with the Corporation, it failed to press Kate Forbes, the Nationalists’ Finance Secretary, on a recent u-turn on business support rules to address the coronavirus crisis. The Tories also reportedly feel that opposition parties don’t receive adequate coverage.

One Conservative source also suggested that the move was a step towards correcting a perceived imbalance of pressure on the BBC, which has come under regular attack from separatist activists ever since the 2014 referendum campaign.

Meanwhile Carlaw has been pressing Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, on how she intends to distribute the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 funding to local authorities. The SNP have been criticised in the past for excessively concentrating power in Edinburgh at the expense of councils’ autonomy.

Welsh minister faces calls to resign after expletive-ridden outburst

Vaughan Gething, the Welsh Government’s health minister, has fallen foul of the Assembly’s new ‘virtual’ sessions by accidentally broadcasting a rant about a fellow AM, the Guardian reports.

He apparently left his microphone live after addressing the chamber, which led to his being overheard attacking Jenny Rathbone, a fellow Labour AM. Gething objected to her line of questioning, asking “What the fuck is the matter with her?” Plaid Cymru have since called for his resignation.

This comes as Dominic Raab used PMQs to put a spotlight on Cardiff’s alleged mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis, which has been a theme with Tory MPs for some weeks (as we have covered in this column). Just this week there was another twist in the story as supermarkets emphatically rejected a claim by Mark Drakeford, the First Minister, that a delay in getting priority deliveries to vulnerable people was their fault.

Wales Online reports his having claimed in a response to Plaid’s Leanne Wood that: “there was no delay in getting supermarkets the information. There was a considerable delay in some supermarkets taking down off their websites the notice that said they were waiting for the information.”

Yet when approached by journalists, the supermarkets themselves reiterated that they had not received the necessary information from the Welsh Government until weeks after the comparable English scheme was already up and running.

Meanwhile Matt Hancock has penned an article in the Welsh press rebutting again the suggestion that companies have been ordered to prioritise England for PPE shipments. Such a pro-active approach to devolved press is welcome, although the Health Secretary unfortunately employed desiccated ‘four nations’ language and the word ‘British’ occurs only once, in reference to private companies rather than any state action.

Wings over Scotland appeal heard in virtual court

Legislatures aren’t the only institutions struggling on via video-link at the moment. Elsewhere Stuart Campbell, AKA the arch-separatist blogger Wings over Scotland, had a legal hearing this way – and the BBC reports that such things might become permanent.

He is attempting to overturn a previous decision in which a sheriff ruled that Kezia Dugdale, a former leader of Scottish Labour, had not defamed him when she wrote in a Daily Record column that he had sent ‘homophobic tweets’. BBC Scotland’s Philip Sim has a blow-by-blow account of the hearing on Twitter.

Inquiry into Sargeant scandal is called off

History moves at quite a clip these days, but this week saw what is probably the conclusion of a story which longer-term readers of this column may remember as the Carl Sargeant scandal.

This was the quagmire the then-First Minister Carwyn Jones found himself in after Sargeant, a Labour AM and former minister, took his own life after being dismissed from the Welsh Goverment.

Jones set up an inquiry into the affair, but this got bogged down almost immediately in objections from the Sargeant family. A High Court judge later ruled it unlawful for Jones to have taken decisions on the probe.

This week, on the advice of ACAS, Drakeford formally wound up the investigation and the Welsh Government paid the Sargeants’ outstanding legal costs – which have apparently run to £220,000.

Andrew RT Davies, the former Tory leader in the Assembly, said that he was “sorry the family will never get the answers they deserve”.