MARK Smith's defence of Sarah Smith's remarks which ruffled Nicola Sturgeon's feathers ("In defence of Sarah Smith... and a plea to First Minister", The Herald, May 21) smacks of the still unfair system of unquestioning loyalty afforded by some professionals to themselves.

As a fellow journalist he went on to explain that it need not have been political bias which prompted her poor choice of words.

Today the legal profession judges itself while Police Scotland still deals with most of its own problems and complaints internally.

We do not need to know Ms Smith's politics, we only need know of the complete impartiality which she should employ at all times as a journalist/reporter.

There are very few exceptions to this rule, one being that of the BBC's needless censure of Naga Munchetty, who dared criticise racial remarks made by Donald Trump.

Ms Smith later apparently changed the wording of her comment about Nicola Sturgeon's statement but a fuller apology and admission of her mistake for what seemed to be a knee-jerk observation would have been more appropriate.

Trust me, I am not a journalist, but I am a strong believer in maintaining as high a level of impartial reporting as can be maintained.

Tina Oakes, Stonehaven.

IN reference to Mark Smith’s piece in defence of Sarah Smith,” I find myself agreeing with one part of his presentation only: "you’re going to call me an idiot". That was an accurate prediction.

He defends Ms Smith on the basis of her apparent apology, wherein she claims having intended to say "embraced" rather than "enjoyed". How puerile is that coming from a professional reporter whose stock in trade is based upon the use of words, but whose task is to report accurately and honestly, not to express personal bias as she certainly did here?

In light of her lame excuse and her apparent uncertainty regarding word meanings, perhaps then she should retrain?

BBC News reporting depends upon factual accounts of happenings, so that the public may gain confidence and belief in the said reports, unlike when as a journalist she may, without impunity, lay forth her opinions and support them with lucid argument.

The Scottish Government, without any hint of paranoia, challenges BBC’s outright bias against its policies and actions and this example simply supports that justified concern.

Further, this foible seems to reflect that the corporation does not protect itself by carrying out a text content on scripts about to be delivered.

Little wonder then that there is a groundswell of public opinion that the BBC is no longer fit for purpose and should be left to compete with the commercial channels.

Ian Cooper, Bearsden.

MARK Smith’s article is justifiably critical of Nicola Sturgeon’s response to Sarah Smith’s faux pas, a slip of the tongue which the journalist subsequently corrected.

The most important point was that "Ms Smith was suggesting the First Minister was enjoying, or embracing, the political elements of the crisis, not the personal consequences for the victims, and it was unfair of Ms Sturgeon to suggest otherwise with talk of loved ones and broken hearts”.

Faux outrage can frequently be found lurking in a politician’s armoury. It is a handy weapon of retaliation, especially if brandished in response to a perceived wrong. It is disappointing to see Scotland’s First Minister resorting to this underhand strategy.

Bob Scott, Drymen.

MARK Smith moved to the defence of his namesake, Sarah, with regard to her recent comment on Nicola Sturgeon "enjoying"' certain elements of addressing the pandemic, to which the First Minister subsequently took exception. He calls into play the old adage "trust me I'm a journalist", which some say comes from the selection of quotations including "the cheque is in the post" and "yes, of course I will love you in the morning".

I am reminded in this context of the conversation between the distinguished editor and author Max Hastings and Michael Portillo, when the latter was in a Conservative government. The editor commented to the politician that he, in newspapers, was much better paid and had an all-round better time. Mr Portillo replied pointedly: "Maybe, but you are on the touchline and we are on the pitch'". Hastings went on to observe that he mistrusted writers and editors who "wished to perceive themselves as players, rather than as recorders and critics". We, as consumers of the news generally, and journalists, as producers and publishers of it, would do well to bear that observation in mind.

Ian W Thomson, Lenzie.