BBC journalist Andrew Marr has defended the decision to have far-Right leader Marine Le Pen on his show on Remembrance Sunday following an angry backlash from viewers.
Critics said the “terrible” decision was insulting to the many Britons who lost their lives fighting fascism during the Second World War.
Marr admitted the move was controversial, but said it is the responsibility of journalists to cover the prospect thatLe Pen could be elected French president next year.
He told viewers: “Now I know this morning some people are offended and upset that I have been to interview Marine Le Pen, and that we are showing this interview on Remembrance Sunday.
“I understand that but I would say this – Le Pen could, under some circumstances, become the next French president in the spring.
“This week, in the immediate aftermath of the Trump victory, she has declared that the whole world has changed and that her brand of politics is on the march. What does that mean?
“In the end we are a news programme and I don’t think the best way to honour the fallen is to fail to report on the next big challenge to Western security.”
His comments come after viewers and politicians condemned the decision to have the National Front leader on the show on the same day as services were held all over Britain and the world to remember the war dead.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said on Twitter: “Marine Le Pen speaking on Marr Remembrance Sunday? Why not interview our veterans who fought fascists & lost so many comrades? So wrong BBC!”
Jimmy McGhee wrote: “Having Le Pen on Marr on Remembrance Sunday is a terrible editorial decision. Arguably she shouldn’t ever be on the BBC, let alone today.”
Billy Lynn wrote: “I have many relatives who fought to free France from Fascists. On Remembrance Sunday BBC have Le Pen on Marr.”
Le Pen told the show there is not a “hair’s breadth” between her party and Ukip, and it is “ridiculous” for Nigel Farage and others to pretend otherwise.
And she said France was “full up” and should not let any more immigrants into the country.
But Suzanne Evans, who is running to be Ukip leader, distanced her party from Le Pen.
Speaking on ITV’s Peston On Sunday, Evans said: “I was appalled, she said France is full, we don’t want any more immigrants. That is so far away from Ukip policy, it is unimaginable.
“Our immigration policy is the same as Australia’s – we want to welcome people in who can contribute to the country and we want to have a points-based system of immigration that is fair and treats all people equally. We are miles away from Le Pen.”