Saturday, 24 October 2009

Nick Griffin's response to Question Time

The BBC was accused last night of letting BNP's Nick Griffin 'play the martyr' amid bitter recriminations over his appearance on Question Time.

Senior MPs accused the corporation of whipping up controversy to maximise viewing figures - then crudely stage-managing the programme so he was under attack throughout from the audience and fellow panellists.

They said the attempt to expose his racist views risked backfiring because some voters would feel he had been unfairly treated.

Last night it emerged that:

  • Complaints that the show was biased against Mr Griffin outnumbered by more than two to one those about him being allowed to appear;
  • Some of the audience appear to have been rushed through the vetting process in a bid to emphasise the multi-cultural nature of London;
  • Audience members were briefed to ask 'provocative' questions and host David Dimbleby told them it was acceptable to boo;
  • More than eight million people tuned in - four times the usual audience and more than watched Strictly Come Dancing last week;
  • The BNP boasted that since Mr Griffin's appearance, 3,000 people had registered to sign up as members;
  • Joel Weiner, 17, who dramatically confronted Mr Griffin about Holocaust denial, said he applied to attend a Question Time programme more than a year ago, but was approached just 24 hours before filming.

Mr Griffin himself said he planned to make a formal complaint to the BBC, over 'twisting' the programme format. He said the episode 'was not a genuine Question Time, it was a lynch mob'.

'People wanted to see me and hear me talking about things like the postal strike. Let's do it again and do it properly this time,' he added.

Question Time is supposed to be a random cross-section of the British public who put the questions of the day to leading politicians.

But extraordinary details emerged yesterday of the lengths to which the BBC went to make sure Nick Griffin got his 'comeuppance' on Thursday night's incendiary edition of the programme, which drew a record 8.1million audience.

Observers claimed that the make-up of the audience appeared to have been deliberately slanted towards the young, multi-cultural and metropolitan.

The BBC flatly denies cherry-picking activists or potential troublemakers. It says that those selected were plucked from a database only containing those who had applied to go on the show before Mr Griffin's appearance had been confirmed.

However a British Asian who clashed with the BNP leader revealed last night that he had been approached to take part only a couple of days before the show.

Khush Klare, 38, asked Mr Griffin what country a British-born Asian was supposed to return to. He then suggested that Mr Griffin himself should go to the South Pole, provoking a wave of laughter.

Mr Klare, a Hindu director of a financial services company, said he had been approached to go on the show by a friend from university. 'When he told me that Nick Griffin would be there on behalf of the BNP, I said, "Absolutely".'

Up to ten BNP supporters are thought to have been in the 200-strong audience. The BBC points out that it always attempts to ensure that the audience is representative of the show's town or city - which on Thursday was London.

However, members of the audience have told the Mail they were handed a detailed crib-sheet which encouraged them to ask questions which were 'short, sharp and provocative'.

The word 'provocative' was underlined in the document handed to them before they went into the studio.

In addition, this sheet contained profiles of the five guests - Mr Griffin, LibDem Chris Huhne, Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Tory peer Baroness Warsi and writer Bonnie Greer. In every single profile, the panellist's views on race was highlighted.

During the warm-up for Thursday's recording of the show, audience members were told they should feel free to jeer when they considered it appropriate.

Daily Mail

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