THE BBC came close to looking like a "state mouthpiece" during the coronavirus pandemic, Martin Lewis has said.

The Money Saving Expert made the comments while answering questions on Westminster’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation.

Lewis was asked by Labour MP Clive Efford if “trusted sources” such as the BBC were in danger of being turned into a "mouthpiece of the establishment" when it "repeated" government messages on Covid restrictions.

The consumer advocate said: “We did get very close, I think, some of the BBC coverage during the pandemic, it felt like at every turn we were told what was important for us which was a repeat of the Government message.

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“I don’t think the message was necessarily wrong but I do feel the continued repetition did make it very close to looking like a state mouthpiece which I think isn’t particularly good for trust at the time.”

During much of the pandemic, the BBC aired both the UK Government and Scottish Government's press briefings nearly every day. 

The Covid briefings were used by the prime minister and the First Minister, along with health experts, to update the UK on Covid cases and lockdown restrictions.

Complaints to BBC Scotland soared almost seven-fold over its coverage during the pandemic.

The broadcaster received 37,255 complaints during the year 2020-2021, compared to 5474 the previous year. 

One of the biggest areas of controversy was coverage of the daily briefings by the Scottish Government on Covid.

The National: The BBC saw criticism for its coverage of the First Minister's Covid press briefingsThe BBC saw criticism for its coverage of the First Minister's Covid press briefings (Image: PA)

The BBC faced criticism for not broadcasting the updates daily last September, 2020, before overturning the decision following an outcry from the SNP.

Concerns were also raised both about showing the briefing without offering a reply from opposition parties and for allowing opposition parties to respond without including an SNP or Scottish Government voice.

In March Ofcom dismissed concerns that the Scottish Government’s televised briefings on Covid were a platform for SNP views.