Belfast Telegraph

Listen: Naomi Long's BBC Talkback phone-in at centre of Alliance 'hijack' storm

By Claire O'Boyle

This is Naomi Long's BBC Talkback appearance which Alliance Party spin doctor Scott Jamison encouraged supporters to "hijack".

The party's top Press man sent a series of directives to an inner circle of members - including Naomi Long, David Ford, Paula Bradshaw, Stephen Farry and Chris Lyttle - encouraging grassroots supporters to field "tricky" on-air questions to political opponents and "softballs" to their leader for the BBC Radio Ulster's series of election interviews.

Scott Jamison added if people were "stuck" for ideas, "we can email you a few".

Mr Jamison, head of communications for the party, sent the messages on a 'secret' Facebook group, and said Alliance was once again targeting BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback after it had done so successfully in last year's election while David Ford was leader.

He said: "We were pretty successful last year with hijacking the show with a series of callers and texters, so I'm looking to do the same again."

During last week's Talkback Mrs Long was asked about marriage equality, the party's position on the border, social housing and if she had unionist or nationalist "leanings".


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BBC Northern Ireland said: "Our radio phone-in programmes regularly attract a high volume of callers who want to ask questions or share their views live on air. In line with our editorial and elections guidelines, our production teams do their best to assess and identify each caller to ensure they contribute to a fair and balanced discussion which our presenters chair live."

The corporation's editorial Election Guidelines 2017 warn producers to "be alert to organised campaigns or lobbying by parties, pressure groups, candidates or people acting on their behalf".

The advice goes on to say that if "organised lobbying is suspected during the election period, contributors may be asked to provide contact details for verification purposes".

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