Ofcom upholds farmer’s SNP ad complaint
● Man appeared without his knowledge in Nationalists’ party political broadcast
Ofcomhasupheldacomplaint about BBC Scotland after an SNP party political broadcast was screened in which a farmer appeared without his knowledge.
John Shedden said he agreed to take part in a “government public information film” but was left furious after the footage promoted the Nationalists.
Mr Shedden, who farms at East Garleton Farm near Haddington, East Lothian, complained as he claimed he was duped into appearing in the SNP broadcast aired by BBC Scotland on 12 October last year.
Regulator Ofcom has now upheld a “fairness and privacy” complaint about the film, which some interpreted as support for the SNP’S call for a second independence referendum.
Filming took place at the farm on 23 September last year, and it was nearly three weeks before Mr Shedden discovered what he had taken part in. The video was eventually removed from BBC iplayer, and is no longer on the SNP’S official Youtube channel.
One clip cuts from a scene talking of “believers” in independence to Mr Shedden sitting having coffee in bales of hay.
At the time, the 55-year-old said: “I am furious. I am not a supporter of the SNP.”
The company that produced it, Greenroom Films, apologised for including Mr Shedden without his knowledge.
In a written ruling, Ofcom said: “Mr Shedden and his farm were shown in a Party Political Broadcast for the SNP. We considered that, consequently, viewers may have reasonably understood that Mr Shedden was a supporter of the SNP, or at least, that he was prepared to be associated with the party. Mr Shedden said that he did not support the SNP, and that he would not have contributed to the programme had it been made clear to him from the outset that the footage would be used in the party’s political broadcast.
“Therefore, it was our view that the inclusion of this footage in the SNP’S political broadcast, may have resulted in Mr Shedden and his political views, being unfairly represented.”
Greenroom said that while others had signed a release form to take part in the film, Mr Shedden had not and should not have been included.
The company accepted responsibility for the blunder and said the BBC and the SNP had acted in “good faith”.
After lodging his complaint, Mr Shedden, who was given a fee of £550 for allowing his land to be filmed, said: “My complaint was that this was to be non-political. We had a letter saying that it was definitely non-party political and it was just a snapshot of life in Scotland. It was a public information film. I don’t want to get into politics, but I am not an SNP supporter.”
A re-edited version of the film with Mr Shedden removed from it was used in further broadcasts.
The SNP said there were unaware of the issue until after the broadcast and said it had been caused by an “error” by the film production company.