Catholic church boycotts Newsnight
The Catholic Church has withdrawn its co-operation from one of the BBC's flagship news programmes, Newsnight Scotland reports the Herald.
The move came after church leaders were upset by the programme's "sneering and aggressive" attitude on the church's position on shared campus schools. They said it failed to "distinguish tabloid fictions from fact".
The rift became apparent when Archbishop Mario Conti took the BBC to task for encouraging "a tabloid culture" in which it had been guilty of "gross insensitivity" to the church.
Of Newsnight Scotland, he said: "It 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."
It also emerged that the Catholic media office wrote to Blair Jenkins, BBC Scotland head of news and current affairs, expressing its "extreme unhappiness" about the programme, which had "savaged" the church's representative. The media office said it was "withdrawing its co-operation" until it got "fairness" from the BBC.
Further fuel was heaped on the fire by two back benchers at Westminster who tabled parliamentary motions of concern over the BBC's journalistic standards in the wake of the archbishop's attack.
Catholic, David Amess, a Conservative MP, noted "with concern the BBC's bias related to anti-religious views, particularly in relation to the Roman Catholic Church".
Sion Simon, a Labour MP, tabled a motion urging Lord Ryder, the BBC's acting chairman, to launch an inquiry into the corporation's journalistic standards.
The archbishop's attack however was condemned as "grossly anti-democratic and dangerous" by the National Secular Society.
Terry Sanderson, its vice-president, said: "It is a blatant attempt to stop the BBC examining the church's activities in a critical manner.
"To try to blackmail the corporation into ceasing any investigation into the church is to directly threaten its journalistic integrity. It is also a demonstration of disgraceful opportunism, to try to push this demand at a time when the BBC is reeling from the Hutton report."