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In U.K., Political Extremism on BBC Causes Outrage

A heated debate over political extremism in the United Kingdom came to a head this week when the leader of the British National Party appeared on a BBC show.

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    His name is Nick Griffin, and he was the most controversial figure in Britain this week. The leader of the extreme right-wing British National Party, he espouses an agenda that includes deporting two million non-white immigrants, and preserving Britain for the British.

    He has dominated headlines, after the BBC invited him to participate in one of the country's most popular prime-time broadcasts, a political panel show called "Question Time."

    SIR DAVID DIMBLEBY, moderator, "Question Time": This panel has been the subject of intense debate for many weeks. Tonight, finally, they face our audience, the voters.


    The BBC refused to bow to public demands for Mr. Griffin to be dropped from the broadcast. The British National Party, it said, recently enjoyed electoral success, winning two seats in the European Parliament and a seat in the local legislature that governs London.

    Therefore, a top BBC executive argued, the broadcaster's "responsibility of due impartiality" meant Griffin's extreme views had a right to be heard, and that attempts to derail the program amounted to "censorship."

    As anti-racism protesters besieged BBC Television Centre in London last night, at one point, they breached the building's security. Inside, members of a multicultural studio audience were giving Mr. Griffin, who was convicted in 1998 of inciting racial hatred and once said of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler that he went a bit too far, a very rough ride.