SNP legal threat over TV debate

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The Scottish National Party has threatened legal action if Alex Salmond is forbidden from participating in the proposed television debate between the main UK party leaders.

John Swinney, the SNP finance secretary, yesterday said that a TV debate without its leader would "deprive" Scottish voters of assessing political choice. It has written to the BBC, ITV and Sky arguing that Mr Salmond is legally bound to take part alongside Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. If refused, the party confirmed it would consider seeking injunctions against the three networks, which could potentially block the broadcast.

The move came just hours after an inaugural US-style television debate between the main party leaders moved a step closer after the Prime Minister agreed "in principle" to the idea.

Scottish opposition parties dismissed the threat, accusing the party of bullying broadcasters. Mr Cameron urged Mr Salmond to concentrate on his responsibilities as Scottish First Minister. "This is a British general election. Alex Salmond is not standing for Westminster," he said. "The choice is between Gordon Brown and a more Conservative government led by me."