Mr Byford said the BNP’s electoral support and two European Parliament seats meant the party fulfilled the necessary criteria to deserve an invite to the show.
While Mr Griffin would not be on Question Time regularly, Mr Byford said he could appear again from time to time because the BNP was “not banned from the airwaves”.
Meanwhile, further details of how last week’s Question Time was stage-managed into an hour of ‘attack Nick Griffin’ have emerged.
The extent of the preparations has clearly breached the BBC’s rules on impartiality and could easily be the subject of court action, observers in many media sources have pointed out.
Certain people were handpicked to be in the audience for the very purpose of asking the “right” questions. These people were subsequently selected “randomly” by host David Dimbleby.
In addition the audience was specifically prompted before the show to ask “robust” questions and told that they should boo as much as they wanted. The audience was not selected on the traditional basis of randomness, but from a predefined list of people identified as BNP-hostile. Of the 200 people invited to be guests, about eight were known or suspected to be BNP-friendly.
In short the entire programme was crafted to be highly politically biased — all in direct contravention of the BBC’s charter.
According to media reports, many in the audience “appear to have been rushed through the vetting process in a bid to emphasise the multicultural nature of London.”
In addition, audience members were briefed to ask “provocative” questions and host David Dimbleby told them it was acceptable to boo.
The Jewish schoolboy Joel Weiner who asked Mr Griffin about the Holocaust, confirmed that he applied to attend a Question Time programme more than a year ago, but was approached just 24 hours before filming.
The BBC denies cherry-picking activists or potential troublemakers and said that those selected came from a database only containing those who had applied to go on the show before Mr Griffin’s appearance had been confirmed.
However an Asian man, Khush Klare, who was given free rein to attack Mr Griffin, said in the media that that he had not even applied to be on the show — and had been approached to do so “only a couple of days before the show.”
Members of the audience also confirmed they were handed a detailed crib-sheet which encouraged them to ask questions which were “short, sharp and provocative.”
The word “provocative” was underlined in the document handed to them before they went into the studio.
* According to sources, BBC director general Mark Thompson has been told by lawyers advising the BBC that the in-house rules on impartiality were not observed on the programme and that “a right of reply” may be the only remedy if the BNP chooses to test the BBC’s rules on impartiality in court.