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Pro-independence campaigners protest outside BBC studios

SEVERAL hundred independence supporters have protested outside the BBC's headquarters in Glasgow against alleged bias in the corporation's coverage of the referendum.

The protest heard speeches and songs by Yes activists, who claimed BBC reporting showed an "unhealthy bias" towards the pro-UK campaign.

However yesterday's gathering, the biggest in a series of demonstrations at the Pacific Quay studios overlooking the Clyde - provoked an angry backlash from No supporters. They accused the Yes campaign of attempting to "bully" the BBC.

Pro-independence campaigner and organiser Moira Williams told the BBC: "We organised this event because we are witnessing increasing discontent over BBC referendum coverage and we felt we needed to stand against this unhealthy bias.

"Whether Scotland votes Yes or No, let it be based on facts provided in a fair and accurate way, not because people have been misguided."

But Labour MP Jim Murphy yesterday condemned the event.

Speaking in Falkirk during a Better Together campaign tour, he said: "One of the great things about the referendum debate is the passion it provokes, but this is taking it far too far.

"The nationalists' attempts to bully broadcasters and boycott boycotts businesses is the last thing the independence debate needs. "More and more Scots are looking at their angry and divisive campaign and finding it a turn off."

He added: "The reason for the nationalists' frustration is clear: after 80 years of campaigning to break up the UK and with just 80 days to go, patriotic Scots are still saying no thanks to their political project.

"They are losing the big arguments and losing the plot in a big way. We have seen lots of online bullying by nationalists, now we are seeing real-world attempts to bully a broadcaster."

The BBC put the gathering at "several hundred" people.

The turn-out was lower than the 1700 protestors anticipated by Newsnet Scotland, a popular pro-independence website which has repeatedly accused the BBC of bias and which helped promote the protest.

Demonstrators, many wearing official Yes Scotland tee-shirts, carried flags and banners bearing slogans including: "BBC shame on you".

In May, First Minister Alex Salmond appeared to blame the BBC for UKIP's success in winning a Scottish European Parliament seat due to the amount of coverage he said it gave the party.

A BBC Scotland spokeswoman said: "Our coverage of the referendum story is fair and impartial in line with the editorial guidelines."

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