Several hundred protesters crushed against police barricades in front of the BBC television studio before the Thursday show. “Question Time” regularly features leading politicians answering questions from audience members. The police said six protesters were arrested and three police officers were injured.
The British National Party has roots in the whites-only National Front, and Griffin, its chairman, was convicted in 1998 for inciting racial hatred connected to material denying the Holocaust.
Griffin said after the show that his views were misrepresented and he planned to file an official complaint over the way the BBC ran the program that night.
His appearance generated a firestorm of criticism against the BBC by those who felt Griffin should not have been given such a platform, but some political observers contend his “rather unconvincing performance in the eyes of many would give support to the view that the more publicity, the more the BNP gets a platform in the medium and long term would actually end up damaging the party,” reported Reuters’ UK bureau chief Keith Weir.
The controversy comes before a general election in the spring, and a political climate where fringe parties are gaining traction due to public discontent over some elected politicians’ behavior, said Weir.
Hear more of Weir’s interview here: