Question Time under fire after ex-Tory MSP Mary Scanlon appears in audience

BBC’s Question Time has come under fire after former Tory MSP Mary Scanlon appeared in the audience.

Viewers criticised the programme on social media after SNP’s Stewart McDonald pointed out that Ms Scanlon made an appearance during the show in Elgin, Scotland.

The 71-year-old ex-MSP for the Highlands and Islands spoke on the future of the Conservatives and the need for a UK leader that would unite the party and the county.

The BBC audience vetting process was questioned by some, with one person writing: “This programme’s efforts to achieve fair audience representation is a total failure.” 

Mr McDonald tweeted: “Why is former Tory MSP Mary Scanlon – 1999 to 2016 – pretending to be an audience punter on #BBCQT?”

The BBC said the show “does not bar people from its audience because they have held elected office or are political activists”.  

Responding to Mr McDonald, Conservative MSP Edward Mountain said: “I think, as she is no longer an MSP, that she is just a voter. I also know she will have been through the audience vetting process.”

Last night’s episode featured a panel predominantly from Scotland, with Tory MP Bim Afolami, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, Edinburgh Lib Dem Christine Jardine, the SNP’s John Swinney and Brexiteer human rights lawyer Eilidh Douglas.

The BBC’s vetting process for the show has previously come under fire when it emerged that former UKIP candidate Billy Mitchell had appeared on the popular politics show four times.

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The application form requires prospective guests to say whether they have previously been on the show, and when.

Guests must also reveal who they would be most likely to vote for in a General Election, how they voted in the EU referendum, and whether they are a  member of a political party. 

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Question Time does not bar people from its audience because they have held elected office or are political activists.

“There is a selection process to ensure a range of views are heard and last night’s QT audience included supporters of different political parties, including the SNP.”



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