BNP attacks fellow 'Question Time' panellists

As the far-right party prepares for its first programme appearance, it accuses the BBC of 'stirring up trouble' with its choice of guests
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Indy Politics

The British National Party, whose leader, Nick Griffin, makes his first appearance on BBC1's Question Time this week, has launched an attack on Bonnie Greer, the playwright and fellow panellist who is expected to tackle Mr Griffin about his views on race on the show.

In a clear attempt to get its retaliation in first, the far-right party has posed the question on its website: "What does the BNP have to do to be invited on to the BBC's Question Time?... Win one million votes and two seats in the European Parliament." It adds: "What does Bonnie Greer have to do to get on to Question Time? Fabricate black history and be paid for it."

The party attacks documentaries Ms Greer has made as being "Afrocentrist" and describes her inclusion on the show as "an obvious attempt to stir up trouble".

The site also dismisses the Conservative peer Baroness Warsi, another panellist on Thursday's show, as a "product of Tory affirmative action".

The comments came after the BNP suffered a humiliating defeat in the courts last Thursday, and was forced to open its membership to everyone, regardless of race and religion.

While Ms Greer and Baroness Warsi declined to comment, the BNP's attack on them has been condemned by anti-racist campaigners.

"I can't help notice that all the people the BNP are complaining about are black. It launches vitriolic attacks on Bonnie Greer and Sayeeda Warsi, but remains silent about the other white Question Time guests," said Weyman Bennett of Unite Against Fascism. "The attack shows a disturbing preoccupation with skin colour. It's high time the BBC stopped treating this racist and fascist organisation as if it was an acceptable democratic party."

Simon Darby, the BNP's deputy chairman, was unrepentant last night: "If Bonnie Greer wants to enter the political arena, she's got to realise if you want to play with the big boys then sometimes you're going to get hurt. People need to understand that she has a political angle, an ethno-centric axe to grind."

The BBC declined to comment on whether guests on Question Time are expected to behave in a certain way during the programme, and a spokesman added: "It is not for us to comment on material on the BNP website."

Also scheduled to appear with Mr Griffin are Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, and Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman. The broadcasting union Bectu has warned that any attempt to film the show at Television Centre in London, where a day-long demonstration is being held on Thursday, could result in strike action. The local council, Hammersmith and Fulham, fearing that the demonstration may turn violent, has requested that the BBC moves the show elsewhere.

Sir David Dimbleby will not be looking forward to sitting at the same table as Mr Griffin, according to the former Question Time chair Peter Sissons: "I wouldn't be comfortable with chairing an edition featuring the leader of the BNP, and I am sure David won't be." He warned: "The main risk for the producers is ensuring that the live audience is balanced, and that a disproportionate number of BNP supporters don't infiltrate the show, giving viewers the impression that they have wide support."

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, condemned the BBC for giving the party a platform it doesn't deserve. "They are a white-supremacist party," he said. "They are an illegally constituted party. They should be confronted in argument. I've been doing that all my life. But I won't appear on this platform with the BNP, because you're talking about bringing them in, to be a legitimate political party, to sit on this platform."