BBC Trust in emergency BNP debate

By Ian Dunt

The BBC Trust convened today for an emergency debate on complaints about the appearance of BNP leader Nick Griffin on Question Time tomorrow.

The committee worked through appeals against his appearance, but it would not force programme makers to remove him from the show.

Technically the Trust has the power to do so, but it does not interfere with individual programmes before they air by convention.

Welsh secretary Peter Hain argued this week that the BNP was an illegal party following its promise to reform its ‘white-only’ membership criteria due to a case against it by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Debate around the show is becoming more heated by the day, especially after the BNP dominated the news agenda yesterday via an attack on the party by Britain’s army chiefs and the leaking of an alleged membership list on the internet.

The Times reported that Question Time will be recorded earlier than usual – at 18:30 BST rather than the usual 20:30 BST.

The Guardian reported a source inside the BBC confirming that a certain number of BNP members will be in the audience. That raised the prospect of a vitriolic audience, with anti-fascist activists also understood to be attending.

Meanwhile, Mr Griffin complained that he does not have a police liaison officer at the event, but the BBC is understood to have moved the programme forward so it can deal with any crowd disruption that takes place outside.