ONE of the most experienced broadcasters in Scotland has won backing from a respected historian in his battle to keep his job after being told he is to be axed as part of the latest round of BBC Scotland cost-cutting.
Iain MacDonald, described as BBC Scotland's voice of the Highlands, plans to appeal the decision to let him go, after 34 years service, by April next year.
Ahead of a meeting today between the journalist and senior managers in Glasgow, Professor Jim Hunter, a leading historian who served two terms as chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), made a personal appeal to BBC Scotland Director Ken MacQuarrie.
He said: "People across the Highlands and Islands have been astonished and disappointed to hear the BBC has decided to get rid of Iain MacDonald.
"The manner in which Iain MacDonald has been treated suggests that none of his bosses in Glasgow have the faintest notion of how warmly this fine broadcaster is regarded.
"What most amazes me about this PR disaster for the BBC is that it's happened on the watch of a BBC Scotland Director, Ken MacQuarrie, who himself comes from our part of the world.
"I'd have expected Ken to have more of a feel for the Highlands and Islands. I very much hope that now this shambles has come to Ken's attention, he'll step in and sort it out."
The Herald approached the BBC for a response to Mr Hunter's remarks from Mr MacQuarrie. However, the press office reissued a previous statement relating to the cuts, pointing to the need to make a 16% cut in its local budget during the freeze on the licence fee until 2017.
It added: "We are determined to ensure the quality of output will not suffer as a result and BBC Scotland audiences can be assured that our coverage will remain authoritative, comprehensive and properly resourced.
"We continue to seek redeployment opportunities where possible."
Meanwhile, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten told MPs former BBC director-general George Entwistle wanted more than the £450,000 pay-off he received.
He said Mr Entwistle wanted more than 12 months' salary to resign, despite being entitled to only half that amount.
He told the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee the settlement was "better than any other course of action" amid fears of an unfair dismissal claim.
Mr Entwistle was forced to quit after just 54 days in the job after BBC2's Newsnight wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine in a child abuse scandal.
Lord Patten said he told him: "We are not urging you to go but we are not urging you to stay."