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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 April, 2005, 14:03 GMT 15:03 UK
Tory anger over BBC heckler show
Michael Howard
Mr Howard was heckled at a meeting near Bolton
The Conservatives have demanded a BBC apology over a programme which it says encouraged heckling at a meeting where Michael Howard was speaking.

The Sunday Telegraph says the Tories accused the BBC of "serious misconduct" after producers equipped hecklers with radio microphones.

But the corporation said it was making a legitimate programme on the history and art of political heckling.

However, it said it would be investigating the complaint thoroughly.

Slogans

In a letter to Helen Boaden, the director of BBC News, Guy Black, the head of Conservative communications said the event was "pre-meditated" and intended to embarrass Mr Howard and disrupt his speech.

He said hecklers at the meeting in Horwich, near Bolton, had shouted out slogans such as "Michael Howard is a liar" and "You can only trust Tony Blair".

Mr Black said staff were in breach of BBC producer guidelines.

But the corporation said the producers were making a programme for BBC Three called The History of Heckling.

In a statement it said the producers had observed hecklers at the meetings of other parties and that the hecklers were not under the direction of the BBC.

"The incident at the Michael Howard meeting only plays a small part in the overall programme," the statement said.

"However, we will be investigating the complaint very thoroughly and will be replying in due course."



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