Security tightened as BBC adds pol to panel

Nick Griffin will appear on current affairs show 'Question Time'

LONDON -- BBC bosses are braced for chaos and possible scenes of violence Thursday after inviting right-wing nationalist politician Nick Griffin to appear on its flagship current affairs panel show "Question Time."

Security has been stepped up inside and outside the BBC's West London studios, where hundreds of anti-fascist supporters are expected to take on the likes of the local BNP as the show goes on air Thursday night.

A last ditch effort to take control of the situation by the BBC Trust, who met late Wednesday night to discuss rescinding the invitation, ended in impasse after the trust said it could not act ahead of the program.

"We have decided it would be wrong for the trust to intervene in a program not yet broadcast -- even one as plainly controversial as this," BBC trustee Richard Tait said.

"To do so would undermine the editorial independence of the BBC -- something we are strongly committed to preserve. Until it is broadcast, the content of Thursday's 'Question Time' is entirely a matter for the director-general."

The decision to allow the far-right head of the British National Party a berth on one of the U.K.'s highest-profile current affairs programs has drawn fury from some political quarters -- who say the BBC is giving the party undue publicity.

It has also been attacked by anti-BNP campaigners who have threatened to demonstrate outside the BBC's headquarters and attempt to disrupt the broadcast.

Griffin, who has in the past questioned the Holocaust and has attacked the U.K.'s tolerance to immigrants, has led a political party that aims to repatriate immigrants and discriminate against blacks, Asians and other racial groups, and said that appearing on the BBC show will significantly boost his party's profile.

"This could be the key moment that propels the BNP into the big time," Griffin said.

"Never before have we had the chance to present our patriotic, common-sense solutions to Britain's nightmare situation to the public at large in such a prominent fashion."

The BBC has defended its decision to invite Griffin, saying that as the party won seats in the recent European Parliament elections, it had a right to be represented.
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