BBC 'will lose trust for giving airtime to BNP'

Rules on impartiality being broken, says radio presenter Rosen as Hain fails in bid to have Griffin's Question Time appearance blocked

A BBC presenter has attacked the decision to invite the leader of the British National Party (BNP) on to BBC1's Question Time tonight, warning that the move "completely contradicts" rules on impartiality and would erode the public's trust in the Corporation.

Michael Rosen, the former children's laureate, accused the broadcaster of "hiding behind" the BNP's European election victories to justify its decision, adding that executives "were relishing" the ratings that the broadcast is expected to receive. "It is failing in the very impartiality that it claims to be trying to uphold," he said.

The BBC Trust is due to be handed a letter from anti-fascist protesters this morning calling for the decision to invite Mr Griffin to take part in the programme to be reversed. However, last night the Trust rejected an appeal by the Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain, to block Mr Griffin's appearance because the BNP had an illegal constitution. The media have been prevented from attending the recording of the show, or even watching a live feed. A spokesman cited "logistical" reasons, but in the past, journalists have been allowed to watch a live feed of the broadcast. The programme will be recorded earlier than normal to allow editors to delete any libellous comments.

Rosen, who presents Radio 4's Word of Mouth, said that the Corporation had "utterly failed in its journalistic duties" in its attitude to handling the BNP after two members who appeared on Radio 1 said the England footballer Ashley Cole was not "ethnically British".

He added that the BBC's championing of the "trust agenda", introduced after controversy over a documentary about the Queen, had been ignored in pushing ahead with Mr Griffin's appearance. "It will lose my trust and that of others if it goes ahead with this," he said. "The BBC is not just any ordinary organisation. It is like a public place – we all own it and need to be a part of it. It has a responsibility to everyone.

"They make this very clear when you work for them. If I were to say anything remotely similar to the things Nick Griffin has said and will say tonight, I would not be allowed on. The BNP's whole notion of reversing immigration rests on the notion that many people shouldn't be here ... the people that the BNP target are licence-fee payers."

He added: "The BBC is obsessed with putting things 'through compliance', to ensure no one will find programmes politically, sexually or socially offensive. I have been stopped from reading a poem that contained one swear word before. Yet while they go into palpitations over things Jonathan Ross says, they are allowing Nick Griffin airtime to say things that will offend millions."

Meanwhile, Mr Griffin welcomed the BBC's decision. "This could be the key moment that propels the BNP into the big time. Never before have we had the chance to present our patriotic, common-sense solutions to Britain's nightmare situation to the public at large in such a prominent fashion."

The BBC's Director General Mark Thompson said ministers would have to impose a broadcasting ban, as it did with Sinn Fein in the 1980s, before it would consider breaching its its "central principle of impartiality." Writing in The Guardian, he said: "Keeping Nick Griffin off air tonight is a job for parliament, not the BBC."

Hundreds of protesters are expected to gather outside the BBC tonight, and police are poised for violent clashes. The programme may be moved to a secret location should it prove too dangerous to ferry guests to the studio in BBC Television Centre, west London.

Weyman Bennett, joint national secretary of Unite Against Fascism, said: "The BBC will be responsible for any increase in racist attacks that take place after they have gone ahead with this."

A spokesman for the BBC said: "The BNP received more than one million votes at the European elections and we do allow parties on once they reach a certain level of support."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all