THE BBC is facing questions after one of its senior journalists liked a series of political posts on social media, including one from someone saying they “can’t stand” SNP leader Humza Yousaf.

David Waddell, a senior producer and reporter for BBC World Business who according to his LinkedIn profile has been with the broadcaster for more than two decades, may have broken the corporation’s social media guidelines with his Twitter usage.

Waddell has also engaged with the anonymous Unionist troll account “Effie Deans” on more than one occasion.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf issues clear response as BBC asks: 'Will you resign?'

In one post he appeared to defend Deans from accusations of Islamophobia after suggestions that Yousaf should be asked if he "regrets the existence of the state of Israel", "regrets that Islam did not spread to Europe", and if he would "prefer it if Islam were the only religion".

Elsewhere, Waddell posted that the SNP would issue a "predictable wail" after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said "independence is always better than dependence", and liked a post which appeared to complain that a photo of Yousaf praying in Bute House “only gets praise”.

The issue of religion in the SNP leadership race is something Waddell appears to have engaged with, liking tweets about both Kate Forbes and Yousaf’s positions on issues such as gay marriage, and the media scrutiny which surrounded them.

One post about Yousaf, which Waddell liked, read: “Can’t stand the bloke but I think it’s fair to say ‘I have a belief, which is an act of faith that is personal to me, but not something I would seek to impose on those who don’t believe’.”

The BBC journalist has liked tweets from pro-UK figures such as Ulster Unionist Party leader Doug Beattie and former Reclaim leader and Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney, as well as one calling “many” on the left of politics "raging snobs", and another calling a Labour MP "dreadful at the best of times".

Elsewhere, Waddell has liked a tweet calling Prince Harry a "weapons grade wacko" who is “off his rocker”.

The National:

Further tweets from Waddell, and ones he has liked and shared, make clear on which side of the gender reform debate he falls.

He has liked posts suggesting that trans children are victims of abuse and that gender-affirming care is “killing” people, that healthcare for trans people is “NOT life saving”, and one where a person says an "MRA [men's rights activist] Twitter pile on" had motivated them.

The BBC’s rules on social media activity, which apply particularly to “individuals involved in the production or presentation of any output in news or other factual areas”, make clear that Waddell should not have a public opinion “for or against any policy which is a matter of current party political debate”, such as gender reform.

Waddell became engaged in public arguments with trans rights campaigners after he criticised Calderdale Council, in West Yorkshire, for posting a health message encouraging "anyone with a cervix" to get screened for cervical cancer.

He wrote in response that the council had opted to use “tortuous language which will be confusing to some and offensive to many”. He further claimed it was “highly provocative”.

Waddell added after the council deleted the post: “Well I see @Calderdale has withdrawn the tweet, which tells its own story … I just think mentioning 'people with cervixes' in a healthcare promo when *on the whole* you mean women, is a bit of a comms self-own.”

Other senior BBC figures have been reprimanded for their use of social media, which the corporation deemed partisan.

Emily Maitlis, the former Newsnight host, was rapped on the knuckles after she shared a Piers Morgan tweet which read: “If failing to quarantine properly is punishable by 10yrs in prison, what is the punishment for failing to properly protect the country from a pandemic?”

READ MORE: What to expect from the BBC’s social media review after Gary Lineker row

And Gary Lineker, the football pundit, caused a storm after he accused the UK Government of echoing the rhetoric of 1930s Germany in their treatment of asylum seekers.

The BBC guidance suggests that Waddell may have breached it through his engagement on social media.

It says: “Expressions of opinion on social media can take many forms – from straightforward tweets or updates, sharing or liking content, following particular accounts or using campaigning or political hashtags.

“If for example a member of staff repeatedly likes or shares, without comment, content reflecting a particular point of view on a matter of public controversy it might create the impression that individual agrees with that view.

“Likewise if a member of staff only follows social media accounts reflecting one point of view on a matter of public controversy that might create a similar impression.”

The National: Michael Russell, the former SNP MSP and Scottish government minister pictured in Argyll.

  Photograph by Colin Mearns
3 July 2021

SNP president Michael Russell (above) said the “position of BBC correspondents has to be absolutely impartial”.

Russell went on: “The complaints in the Yes movement about a lack of impartiality are given extra substance when it becomes clear that the BBC does not enforce it for its own employees. This requires to be sorted out, and not just for the one individual.

“It should be a reminder to the entire organisation that their attitude is far from neutral as far as both the SNP and independence is concerned.”

The BBC has been approached for comment.