Alex Salmond has declared war on the BBC after the broadcaster reported on sensitive information he alleges was leaked from the UK government informing it that the Royal Bank of Scotland would relocate its headquarters to England in the case of a referendum yes vote.
The Scottish first minister, who played down the economic effects the official relocation of the RBS HQ would have, criticised the BBC for disclosing the information and called for an inquiry into the leak.
Salmond made the comments during a rowdy press conference in Edinburgh during which he accused Nick Robinson, BBC political editor, of heckling him.
Further upping the ante, the first minister said he would write an official letter of complaint to Sir Jeremy Heywood, UK government cabinet secretary, demanding an inquiry into the leak.
Directly addressing Robinson, Salmond accused the BBC of being responsible for the leak, adding: “The briefing of market sensitive information is as serious a matter as you possible can get, and therefore I know the BBC in its impartial role as a public sector broadcaster will give full cooperation to that investigation.”
The first minister also accused the BBC of using fear-mongering tactics by repackaging old news stories when Robinson faced him with questions regarding the future of Standard Life and BP. This comes after both firms claimed a yes vote would have a negative impact upon the Scottish economy.
Salmond said: “[It] might be news to some of the media that the warnings that were released yesterday were actually a recycling of things from months ago. Bob Dudley (BP director) made exactly the same statement in February, and Standard Life made exactly the same statement three months ago. I know it was news to some people but it certainly wasn’t news to the people of Scotland.”
Ross McEwan, chief executive of RBS, on Wednesday said that the relocation of bank’s headquarters would have no effect on the firm’s 12,000 Scottish jobs or its operations, adding that the move was the most effective way to “provide clarity” to stakeholders.
Earlier on Thursday, the Yes campaign took a blow after the Scotsman newspaper came out in full support of a no vote.