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Nothing British v the BNP

Nothing British is justifiably proud of having persuaded the BBC to think again about its gaffe:

Last October Nothing British wrote to the BBC’s Director General and the head of BBC News to complain about the shoddy interview with the BNP’s head of publicity and the managing director of its white nationalist record label.

Today, the BBC’s editorial complaints unit has conceded that it did not provide sufficient information about the BNP’s Collett and Smith when it called them “young BNP” members. It also admitted that it had failed to properly challenge them when they referred to Ashley Cole as not being “ethnically British”.

In our letter we explicitly said that we supported the BBC’s decision to allow BNP leader Nick Griffin MEP on to Question Time: as he was part of the democratic process and an elected official. We also believed that it was right for them to interview the relatively young BNP duo on BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat radio show.

We hope that if other BNP members and supporters are allowed on to future BBC programmes that they are denied the opportunity to propagate their neo-racist ethnopluralist theories on primetime radio without being challenged.

Furthermore, as an interviewer would do with a member of a mainstream party, we hope that more context is provided about the subjects being interviewed.

Here is the BBC ECU ruling:

Complaint

Two listeners complained that two interviewees had been introduced simply as “young guys who are members of the BNP“, when in fact both had important roles in relation to the party. One of the listeners also complained that they had not been interviewed with sufficient rigour, and a visitor to the Newsbeat website made a similar complaint about the edited version of the interview which appeared there.

Outcome

At the time of the interview, one of the interviewees was the BNP’s publicity director and the other ran the record label which promotes and sells BNP CDs. Information about their status was relevant to listeners’ understanding of their contributions, and should have been included. Although not conducted in a confrontational style, the interview did include elements of challenge (in both the broadcast and the online version). However, the concept of British ethnicity, introduced by the interviewees in connection with the example of a black British-born footballer, was not tested in the way its controversial character called for.

Further action

The Newsbeat team were reminded of the need to ensure that listeners have enough information to assess the status and credentials of interviewees. The Editor of Newsbeatalso discussed with the team the need for rigorous challenge within interviews of this kind.