A FORMER Scottish minister has hit out over the decision by the Scottish culture secretary to approve the appointment of Muriel Gray to the BBC board.

Angus Robertson congratulated Gray - a prominent Unionist - on her new role as the broadcaster's board's nation member for Scotland.

The announcement was made on Monday by the UK Government after the Scottish Government gave its approval of Gray's appointment.

Kenny MacAskill, a former Scottish justice secretary, now Alba MP, said: "The BBC’s reputation for impartiality particularly on Scottish independence is at an all-time low.

"While this appointment was not made in Scotland it was signed off by Scottish Ministers.  

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"Instead of bending the knee to the BBC in London, Angus Robertson should be demanding that broadcasting be devolved.  

"At the very least he should be fighting for the BBC Scotland Advisory Board to be replaced by an interim BBC Scotland Board with real teeth appointed by the Scottish Parliament to reflect Scottish views and to provide the oversight of BBC Scotland that is required."

Robertson said he expected Gray to promote Scotland's "specific and distinctive" interests and a "fairer level of investment" when she takes up the four-year role in January.

Meanwhile, MacAskill is to quiz UK ministers on BBC spending in Scotland arguing the corporation is "short changing" Scots.

The depute Alba leader has tabled written parliamentary questions to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on the funding of BBC Scotland compared to other nations and regions in the UK. 

Figures published by the BBC have shown a discrepancy between the amount which the BBC raises from TV licence payers in Scotland and the amount which is spent by the BBC in Scotland.

In a statement MacAskill, the MP for East Lothian said: "With the appointment of Muriel Gray as the new ‘nation member’ for Scotland to the BBC Board now is a good time to shine a light on how much the BBC spends in Scotland compared to how much the BBC actually raises from the TV licence fee.  

“We know that Scottish TV licence payers are being short changed, year after year, with millions of pounds more being raised in Scotland than is actually spent in Scotland.  

"I am calling on the Culture and Media Secretary [Nadine Dorries, below] to ‘come clean’ about how much is spent in Scotland, how many people are employed and how many senior executives work at BBC Scotland compared with the other nations and regions of the UK.  

The National:

“These answers will reveal whether BBC Scotland is receiving its fair share from the central funding pot or whether it is receiving the crumbs from the master’s table.

“Every pound raised in TV licence fee is money that should be retained in Scotland to make Scottish drama, comedy, news, sport and documentaries.  

"Employing camera operators, sound engineers, reporters and production staff here in Scotland helps to support our broadcasting and creative industries, and promote our home grown talent.

“However for Scotland to receive a fair deal rather than being constantly short-changed will take more than a new member of the BBC Board.  

"It will require the BBC Scotland Advisory Board which the ‘nation member’ for Scotland  chairs to be replaced by an interim BBC Scotland Board which can begin to demand the investment and jobs which Scotland pays for but are currently exported to south of the border.”

Gray's appointment comes just four months after she quit her Glasgow School of Art post following two disastrous fires at its world famous building designed by the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Ken Macdonald, a recently retired senior BBC journalist, told The Times on Monday: “This is a brave and interesting choice but not one that is without risk. It could blow up in the BBC’s face. The BBC is often accused of being bland. Well, I don’t think anybody could accuse Gray of being bland.”

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Gray, 63, rose to fame in the early 1980s as an interviewer on the Channel 4 music show The Tube and has decades of experience both in front of the camera and behind it.

However, her new role at the BBC will be strategic and supervisory rather than hands-on. She will be paid £33,000 a year for working the equivalent of two days a week, plus another £5000 for chairing the board’s Scotland committee.

BBC Scotland has been accused of bias from both supporters and opponents of independence in recent years. 

An official job description says Gray will support the BBC to meet its aims as an impartial and high-quality public broadcaster, have strong knowledge of Scottish culture and politics, and be an “ambassador” for the corporation to key stakeholders, such as the UK and Scottish governments.

However, a board member must also be firmly independent of the BBC.