THE BBC has hit back at stinging criticism from prosecutors over its recent documentary on Glasgow's bin lorry crash, saying it stood by the "integrity and accuracy of its journalism".

Twenty-four hours after it emerged the country's most senior prosecutor had made the highly unusual move of appealing to the broadcaster not to screen the programme, BBC Scotland has publicly denied several of the allegations made against it.

Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said claims made in 'Lies, Laws and the Bin Lorry Tragedy', shown earlier this month and which he branded a "sensationalist documentary" were "simply not true".

Grieving relatives of the six people killed in the tragedy last Christmas told the BBC documentary they felt they had been misled by Crown Office officials, claiming a decision not to prosecute driver Harry Clarke had been taken before they learned he had suffered a previous fainting episode while driving a bus.

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Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland

They used the documentary to claim that one very senior Crown official had referred to Mr Clark as a "fat, uneducated West of Scotland" man.

In a defence of Crown Office officials on its staff website and later leaked into the public domain, it also emerged Mr Mulholland took the unusual step of personally ringing the controller of BBC Scotland to ask that the allegations not be reported.

But in its statement the BBC said: "We reject the general, but non-specific, criticisms reported to be in the Crown Office internal note to staff and which included one specific inaccuracy which we wish to correct.

"Their internal note reportedly claimed that BBC Scotland wrongly said that the Crown was unaware that the driver had had an episode of impaired consciousness at the wheel of a bus when it decided not to take criminal proceedings.

"The documentary did not make any such assertion. What we did report was that all the families featured are certain there was no mention of the loss of consciousness at the wheel of a bus at separate meetings between them and Crown officers in March. 

"The families who spoke to us insist only that a loss of consciousness by the driver in a canteen was mentioned to them."

HeraldScotland: Police have begun the investigation into what caused a bin lorry to career along a pavement crowded with Christmas shoppers in the centre of GlasgowIt said that while the Crown Office had declined to be interviewed, a statement from the service which was included in the programme claiming it was fully aware that the driver had had a previous faint on a bus when they met the families.

The broadcaster added that throughout production of the programme it had "engaged appropriately and comprehensively with the Crown Office and included responses they gave".

It said: "That included a request for interview with the Lord Advocate on the issues raised, an offer that was declined, but which remains on offer."

The Crown Office statement, entitled "Lord Advocate and Crown Agent express support for staff", said all circumstances of Mr Clarke's driving record were known before the decision not to prosecute him was made.

The statement, which was leaked, said: "It was for these reasons that the Lord Advocate took the unprecedented step of telephoning the controller of BBC Scotland to seek to persuade him not to broadcast these defamatory statements."

The statement added that the BBC had refused a briefing offered and had been contacted by Crown communications staff asking for corrections.