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.”
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Robin Thicke named sexist of the year 2013
PAs cleared of fraud - and Nigella Lawson left reeling at 'ridiculous sideshow' of drug allegations and public dissection of marriage to Charles Saatchi
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Apollo Theatre collapse: Scores injured after ceiling collapses in London's West End
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- 1 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 2 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 3 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 4 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
- < Previous
- Next >
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: This Big 4 giant is seeking ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Do you have personal tax exp...
£22000 - £37000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: This se...
£27000 - £30000 per annum: Capita Education Resourcing Permanent Team: Capita ...