BBC rejects call to ban BNP's Nick Griffin from Question Time

Nick Griffin will go on Question Time tonight after the BBC rejected last-minute calls to ban him.

By James Lyons 

Nick Griffin will go on Question Time

tonight after the BBC rejected

last-minute calls to ban him.

The corporation's governing body met

in emergency session to hear

appeals for the far-right BNP leader

to be booted off the panel.

Cabinet minister Peter Hain and Trevor Phillips,

chairman of Britain's race watchdog,

had begged the BBC Trust

to block the show. But a senior

Westminster source

said: "They turned the request down."

A bitterly disappointed Mr Hain said

the BBC had "made one of

the biggest mistakes in its proud history".

The decision to allow Griffin on the show

sets the scene for violent confrontations

outside the BBC television centre

today with anti-fascist demonstrators.

About a thousand are expected

to protest outside the West London

building as the programme is recorded.

Police have put 300 officers on stand-by

and the BBC has drafted in 60 extra

security guards to deal

with any problems inside.

Bnp members and left-wing opponents

will be in the 200-strong studio audience.

But despite the fears of violence,

BBC chief political adviser Ric Bailey

said the Corporation would have

breached its charter had it

not treated the BNP with impartiality.

He said the decision to have Griffin

on the programme was based

on the party's success in June's European

elections at which it won more

than 940,000 votes and two seats.

He added: "We absolutely stand

by our judgment." Welsh Secretary Mr Hain

said the BBC was ignoring its

duty to promote "diversity and tolerance".

He added: "I am very sad the BBC

I grew up with and held in such

high regard has made one

of the biggest mistakes in

its proud history.

"Nick Griffin has today confirmed that

I was right. He feels that the BBC

have given him an early Christmas present.

This gift of credibility will

last him a political lifetime."

He went on: "It saddens me to see

that BBC executives have become

apologists for the BNP, lauding

the recent electoral success of the BNP

as a new 'threshold' which

the Corporation must respect.

"They have gone to extraordinary

lengths to give the BNP a platform,

and the credibility they crave."

Trevor Phillips, head of the Equalities

and Human Rights Commission,

had written to BBC Trust chairman

Sir Michael Lyons and director general

Mark Thompson, saying the BNP's ban

on non-white members means

Griffin must not be given air time

alongside regular politicians.

He stopped short of threatening

legal action. But he pointed out that

only last week a court ruled

the BNP acted illegally

by restricting membership

to "indigenous Caucasians".

Griffin and his colleagues agreed

to try to change his party's constitution

in the wake of the humiliating verdict.

Mr Phillips said that until that

happened the BNP was not lawful

and should not be treated

the same as other political parties.

A bbc Trust spokeswoman

said Mr Phillips's views had been "noted".

Question Time is being recorded

early so lawyers can trawl

through the footage to remove

anything that breaks race or libel laws.

Last night an academic warned

that Griffin's appearance

could double support for the BNP.

That happened to the Front National

party in France when leader

Jean-Marie Le Pen was

featured on a political programme in 1984.

Dr Jim Shields, associate professor

in French Studies at Warwick University,

said Le Pen's appearance was

"a real milestone" in his acceptability.

He went on to come second

in France's 2002 presidential election.

Griffin has stoked fury ahead

of the programme with an

outrageous slur on ex-army chiefs.

He compared the generals to Nazi war

criminals after they accused him

of cynically exploiting our troops

by using them in campaigns.

The slur was condemned b

y Col Richard Kemp, ex- commander

of UK forces in Afghanistan, who

rejected Griffin's claim to have

support among rank-and-file troops.

The former commander said

Griffin's fascist ideology was the

"other side of the coin" to Islamic

extremism and went against

the proud traditions of the Armed Forces.

He added:"The BNP's divisive politics

would destroy that trust and fighting spirit."



Bbc chiefs have ordered

Dimbleby not to give Nick Griffin an easy ride.

They are relying on the 70-year-old

veteran host to stop

the debate turning into a slanging match.


As a non-politician, the playwright

will have more freedom to speak her mind.

American-born Greer, 60,

can draw on her experience as

a black woman to talk

authoritatively about racism.


The Lib Dem Home Affairs

spokesman is one of his

party's strongest performers

who will refuse to be

goaded by Griffin. But he will

have to fight hard to avoid

coming over as soft on crime.


The Shadow Communities minister

was parachuted in to

David Cameron's team in

a bid to show Tories have changed.

A strong performance from her

would be a humiliation

for Griffin and his racist party.


The Justice Secretary is one

of Westminster's best operators.

He has handled racial tension

in his Blackburn constituency.

He has faced flak over

expenses and Griffin will target

his close links to Muslim groups.

Link here

Sent from Kigali, Rwanda

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