The BBC news crews had no trouble finding news to cover Thursday – it came to them. Several hundred people showed up outside the BBC Television Centre to protest an on-air appearance by Nick Griffin, the head of the British National Party, a far right-wing, whites-only party.
At one point, a group of about 25 protesters broke through a gate and entered the studio complex, but they were removed by police. Six people were arrested and three officers reported injured.
Griffin, meanwhile, was brought in through another entrance for his appearance on “Question Time,” the BBC’s flagship political discussion show.
The British National Party recently elected its first members to major political offices, a handful of seats in the European Parliament.
Leaders of Unite Against Facism, which organized the protest, charged that it was disgraceful for the BBC to give the British National Party any air time.
BBC Deputy Director General Mark Byford defended the decision to invite Griffin on the program. “They should have the right to be heard, be challenged, and for the public who take part in Question Time and the viewers to make up their own minds about the views of the BNP. It’s not for the BBC to censor and say they can’t be on,” Byford said.