Page last updated at 21:23 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 22:23 UK

TV test for BNP leader

By Ross Hawkins
BBC political correspondent

It was a moment 500 protesters outside BBC TV Centre had spent much of the day trying to stop.

But Nick Griffin finally walked onto the Question Time set and took his place beside David Dimbleby untouched by those who had campaigned to keep him away.

Nick Griffin on the panel
Nick Griffin avoided the protests to take his seat on the panel

Inside the studio there was anger, occasionally jeering, but enough order for the audience to hear what the guests had to say.

Nick Griffin began with denials. Quotes attributed to him in the newspapers were wrong he said.

Pushed on his appearance beside a Ku Klux Klan leader - caught on video and available on YouTube - he said that leader was "totally non violent".

Asked whether he continued to doubt whether the Holocaust had taken place he said : "I cannot explain why I used to say those things any more than I can tell you why I've changed my mind." European law stopped him giving his opinion, he said.

The audience hooted its derision.

But there was much he accepted.

Yes, he thought Islam was a "wicked and vicious faith" because he said it treated women as second class citizens.

And those he described as the "indigenous people" felt shut out in their own country. "We are the aborigines here," he said.

It was a programme - unsurprisingly - dominated by the presence of one guest. That did not mean Nick Griffin was the only one who came under attack.

The Conservative peer Sayeeda Warsi accused Justice Secretary Jack Straw of not giving an honest answer when he was asked whether government immigration policy had contributed to the BNP's success.

Mr Straw suggested the week had been a catastrophic one for the BNP.

That conclusion will be debated long after guests and protesters have left Television Centre.



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