Great Britain

BBC journalist apologises after claiming Nicola Sturgeon 'enjoyed' setting lockdown rules

A senior BBC journalist has apologised to Nicola Sturgeon after telling viewers the first minister had “enjoyed the opportunity to set her own lockdown rules".

Scotland Editor Sarah Smith was discussing differing UK plans to ease restrictions on Monday night’s BBC News at Ten when she appeared to suggest Ms Sturgeon had relished the chance to set a different path from Boris Johnson’s government in Westminster.

Ms Sturgeon rejected the comment, tweeting on Tuesday morning: “Never in my entire political career have I ‘enjoyed’ anything less than this.

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"My heart breaks every day for all those who have lost loved ones to this virus."

Ms Smith said her comment, made during a live link, was a “mistake".

“I do not believe that @NicolaSturgeon is enjoying this crisis,” she tweeted. “I had meant to say on the ten o’clock news that she has ‘embraced’ the opportunity to make a policy unique to Scotland. I said ‘enjoyed’ by mistake. Not suggesting she is enjoying crisis but embracing devolution.”

Ms Sturgeon said she accepted Ms Smith’s “clarification,” adding: “For me, the matter is closed.”

The Scottish government is due to lay out its own plans later this week in a “roadmap” for easing rules after 28 May. The first minister said on Monday that this would mean people could meet someone from another household as long as social distancing is maintained, while garden centres will be allowed to reopen and more outdoor activities, including fishing and golf, will be permitted.

“Within two weeks my hope is that we will be taking some concrete steps on the journey back to a form of normality,” Ms Sturgeon added. "As I've said before, it won't be normality as we knew it because the virus will not have gone away but it will be a journey to a better balance - I hope - than the one we have today.

"As we take each step, we must make sure that the ground beneath us is as solid as possible. That's why sticking with the lockdown restrictions a bit longer to suppress the virus more is so important because that will mean we can start to take these steps with the confidence that we have alternative means of effectively keeping it under control."

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