BNP row reignites over reply to party leaders' TV debates

The major broadcasters face anger after deciding to invite Nick Griffin, the British National Party leader, to reply to the televised Prime Ministerial debates during the general election campaign.

The BBC, ITV and Sky this week reached agreement on the format of the three encounters between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

They have also agreed to give three other parties with substantial electoral support – the Green Party, the UK Independence Party and the BNP – the opportunity to respond.

The decision threatens a rerun of the protests faced by BBC after Mr Griffin appeared on BBC1’s Question Time last October.

Tonight the corporation confirmed it would give him a fresh platform immediately after the end of the BBC-hosted debate between the Tory, Labour and Lib Dem leaders.

He will be invited, along with Caroline Lucas of the Greens and Nigel Farage of UKIP, to give interviews on BBC1’s News at Ten and BBC2’s Newsnight, as well as on Radio 4’s Today programme the following morning.

ITV said it would also give a platform to the BNP leader, and Sky looks certain to follow suit.

A spokesman for BBC News said the decision was aimed at ensuring that “due impartiality is achieved in line with its election guidelines”.

The BBC argues it is legally required to give airtime to the far-Right party because of the electoral support it attracted during the European elections, when it won two seats in the European Parliament.

ITV said: “We will be ensuring that we include an appropriately wide range of views throughout our election coverage.”

But a spokesman for Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation, said: “The BNP are being allowed to hijack the election debates.”

The BNP will also be entitled to at least one party political broadcast on each channel because of the large number of candidates it is fielding.

Mr Griffin’s appearance on Question Time attracted 7.9 million viewers, almost three times its usual audience.

Police mounted a major security operation outside Television Centre while Mr Griffin was inside, but failed to prevent demonstrators briefly getting into the building.

Both UKIP and the Green Party said yesterday they were unhappy at not being invited to participate in the main debates between the leaders.

Mr Farage said: “We think the way it has been set up is unfair. We came second across the UK in the European elections last year.”

A spokesman for the Green Party said: “We would have thought the broadcasters would recognise the Green Party has a strong claim to being part of the main debate.”

The BBC is to hold separate party leader election debates in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it has also confirmed.

But in a joint statement the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cmyru yesterday denounced the “unfair treatment of Welsh and Scottish licence fee payers who are being denied the opportunity by the public broadcaster to hear from their respective national parties in these set-piece leaders’ debates.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game