Littlejohn: I turned down Question Time alongside BNP

Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn declined an invitation to appear on Question Time alongside British National Party leader Nick Griffin.

Littlejohn revealed in his column this morning he was asked early last week by the BBC to appear on the programme this Thursday.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw, representatives of the other main parties and black writer Bonnie Greer are also scheduled to appear on the programme.

The Mail columnist wrote this morning that it took him “all of five seconds” to decline the invitation.

Littlejohn wrote: “There’s no upside. Best case, you monster him and come across as a bully.

“Worst case, he challenges you to disagree with some of his views, perhaps on something as straightforward as demanding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, and you’re immediately tarred as guilty by association.

“Once you’ve said he’s a racist, where else is there to go?”

Littlejohn said the BNP wasn’t a serious force at Westminster and the BBC is under no obligation to invite Griffin to appear on the current affairs debate programme.

He added: “If this were a special EU edition of Question Time, there might be some justification for including Griffin.

“One million people voted BNP in the European elections and the party has two MEPs.

“But the BNP isn’t a serious force at Westminster, nor is it likely to have any MPs after the next General Election. So the BBC is under no obligation to give Griffin a platform.

“We are told the programme offers an opportunity to expose the BNP. To whom?”

A BBC spokesman was unable to confirm Littlejohn’s invitation saying the corporation did not pass comment on those sounded out about appearing on Question Time.

The BBC previously said Griffin’s inclusion is based on obligations resulting from the party’s success in winning two seats in European parliamentary elections this year.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson used his appearance on last week’s Question Time to call on the BBC to “reconsider” its decision to invite the far-right leader on to the show.

He echoed the sentiments of cabinet colleague Peter Hain who wrote to the BBC last week claiming it could face a legal challenge if it allows Griffin to appear.

Littlejohn added:”If they’re hoping that Griffin will come across as the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler, they are going to be sorely disappointed. He won’t rise to the bait.

“I speak from experience. Back when I had a show on Sky TV, my producer thought it would be a good idea to invite Griffin to appear…Interviewing the shifty and unsavoury Griffin was like trying to nail jelly to a wall…. I put it to Griffin that what set the BNP apart was the large elephant not in the manifesto, namely that it is the ‘Wogs Out’ party.

“Even when I confronted him with the incontrovertible evidence in chapter and verse, he shrugged and shuffled, mouthed a few platitudes and that was about it. I may have pressed him again on the overtly racist appeal of the BNP, but it didn’t achieve anything.”

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