BBC ramps up security for BNP appearance

Tuesday, October 20 2009,

The BBC has stepped up security in preparation for British National Party leader Nick Griffin's controversial appearance on Thursday's Question Time.

All background details of anyone wanting to join the audience for the BBC One programme are being checked with much greater rigor than previously seen, reports The Guardian.

Members of the public will be asked to fully stipulate their political allegiances to ensure that the audience reflects a broad range of views, including BNP supporters.

However, widespread protests are expected around Griffin's appearance on the show as anti-fascist groups demonstrate their distaste at the BBC's decision to give his party a platform.

The corporation therefore intends to increase security at BBC Television Centre, where the programme will be filmed for the first time in four years, and immediately eject anyone who circumvents security checks to access the studio.

Recording for the show will also start slightly earlier than usual in order to give more time to edit the material should a disturbance occur. Question Time is usually pre-recorded very close to transmission in order to go out almost live.

Yesterday, Welsh secretary Peter Hain sent a letter to BBC director general Mark Thompson warning of potential legal action should Griffin's appearance go ahead.

The cabinet minister argued that the BNP is currently "an unlawful body" due to its white-only membership policy and so should not be allowed to feature.

Pressing the issue, Hain subsequently sent another letter to BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons expressing his concern over the corporation's decision to forge ahead with Thursday's Question Time lineup.

"The trust has received an appeal from Peter Hain," said a Trust spokesman. "We will now decide whether or not it would be appropriate to hear this appeal. If it is appropriate, the appeal will be heard in a timely manner."