Beeb ‘profoundly mistaken’ over BNP

By Alex Stevenson

The chairman of the Commons’ foreign affairs committee has compared the BBC’s decision to let the British National party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin appear on Question Time to the actions of moderates in early 1930s Germany.

Mike Gapes is tabling an early day motion which will appear on tomorrow’s order paper which notes that no previous BBC director-general has made the judgement Mark Thompson has in allowing Mr Griffin access to Question Time’s large audience.

“Those people in Nazi Germany who naively believed… they could somehow co-opt the BNP into their system and moderate them were sadly proved to be very badly mistaken,” he told politics.co.uk.

“Putting this man on to the panel of Question Time gives [him] a legitimacy from the BBC which is profoundly mistaken.”

Listen to Mike Gapes on the BNP:

Mr Gapes was a prominent critic of the BBC for its refusal to broadcast the Gaza appeal earlier this year. He also spoke out against the corporation for its reporting on Gordon Brown’s health.

His Commons motion condemns the BBC Trust, the body charged with ensuring the BBC does not act against the public interest, as “pusillanimous” in not stepping in.

“Previous BNP, or National Front, or British Union of Fascist leaders did not get the same treatment from the BBC,” he added.

“This, after all, is a publicly funded broadcaster. This invitation sends a very bad signal about the judgment of the BBC.”

Mr Gapes is worried the high level of attention for the BNP resulting from today’s appearance will improve the far-right party’s support.

“The French Holocaust denier [Jean-Marie] Le Pen was given a major boost by media coverage given to him in 1984 and it seems the BBC is similarly losing all judgement in the interests of boosting its ratings by doing the same,” he said earlier today.