By a Newsnet reporter
Concerns have been raised after comments from a Latvian Minister claiming the rest of the UK might not inherit full EU rights following Scottish independence, were removed from a BBC Scotland evening news bulletin.
A broadcast on Reporting Scotland saw reporter Glenn Campbell (pictured) claim that a newly independent Scotland would have to formally apply for European membership. The claim followed an interview with Latvian European Minister Edgars Rinkevics.
However not included in the report were comments from the same interview in which the Latvian Official said that the remainder of the UK would not be guaranteed to inherit the old EU membership.
Mr Rinkevics was taking part in an online interview with the BBC reporter when he said he believed that a newly independent Scotland would have to negotiate its EU membership. Insisting that there was no precedent, the Minister said:
"The procedure of admitting a new member to the EU would have to be followed. So in that case we would consider that there is a state, there is a nation that wants to become an EU member and basically all the chapters of negotiations have to be opened, duly negotiated and then closed and then Scotland as an independent state would have to be admitted as a member of the European Union."
Asked to confirm if this meant a formal application from either Scotland or the remainder of the UK, Mr Rinkevics refused to be drawn and said: "That’s exactly one of the most interesting parts, I refer to the legal services currently. I understand the commission and also colleagues from the EU legal services are also currently considering that so I do not want to make any comment vis-à-vis that part of the question, I think we need solid legal opinion."
When pressed again on the position of an independent Scotland and whether a formal application would be required, Mr Rinkevics replied “Yes, from a theoretical point of view”.
However, despite the full interview featuring on early morning radio where the UK claim was clearly heard, the controversial comment was missing when the interview was covered on the prime time evening news. Also missing from Reporting Scotland was a suggestion by the Latvian Minister that in his opinion the process that would face Scotland would be different and quicker than normal applications.
Mr Rinkevics went on to say Scotland would “naturally” become a member of the UN, the EU and other organisations and negotiations following a yes vote would be “much quicker” than countries who are applying from scratch, giving as an example his own country of Latvia.
Describing Scotland as satisfying, “practically all key issues in almost every field” the official said that the process would also be quicker than new member applicants like Iceland or Croatia, which are scheduled to join the EU later this year.
The removal of the UK comment and other clarification statements from the evening news show which is watched by half a million people, and has the largest audience of all BBC Scotland news programmes, comes weeks after a controversial interview with an Irish Minister led to the official complaining that her comments had been misrepresented and taken out of context.
The BBC, which had claimed the Irish European Minister Lucinda Creighton agreed with a UK government minister that Scotland would be outside the EU, defended its decision not to give Ms Creighton’s complaint high profile coverage saying it was not newsworthy.
Ms Creighton had denied saying that Scotland would be thrown out of the European Union on independence and complained that her words had been "spun" and "misconstued".
This latest news report follows an official statement from the BBC in which the corporation said it does not have to provide balance in its coverage of the referendum debate because the campaign has not yet officially started.
Contacted by Newsnet Scotland, a spokesman for the BARD2014 campaign, which is calling for a balanced referendum debate from broadcasters, said: “There is growing concern amongst many Scots that the independence debate is not being covered in a fair and balanced manner.
“This not only includes debates and discussions, but also those news reports that can impact on the public’s understanding of referendum issues.
“Whilst we don’t wish to comment on this specific broadcast, we nevertheless would express concern if any broadcaster was deliberately manipulating news reports in order to benefit one side over the other.”
With Mr Campbell himself claiming that what Latvia thinks is "particularly important", there is certain to be genuine puzzlement that a claim suggesting the rest of the UK will not automatically inherit EU membership was cut from Scotland's national news programme.
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