MP calls for apology after BBC Question Time risked ‘fanning the flames of division’ by inviting EDL members

Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman
Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman

Boston’s MP has accused the BBC of risking ‘fanning the flames of division across the country’ and called for the broadcaster to make an apology after the town hosted Question Time.

Matt Warman has written directly to the director general of the corporation Tony Hall, to say how ‘dismayed’ he was to see that a producer for the show had ‘sought actively to recruit the members and supporters not of mainstream political parties, but explicitly of the English Defence League’.

It follows a post on the Boston Demonstration Facebook page from an Audience Producer for BBC Question Time.

In his letter Mr Warman states: “I am reliably informed that other attempts were also made to reach out to this extreme, far-right group.

“I know none were made to Conservative supporters, or apparently to any other particular group beyond a general call to the public.”

Mr Warman said he was always glad to see the BBC reporting from Boston and praised a number of shows.

“I am sure you want to see fair and balanced audiences on your flagship programmes as much as I do,” he wrote

“Boston, in particular, is a much misrepresented town thanks to its voting, calmly and understandably, so overwhelmingly to leave the EU.

“We have, since the vote, seen none of the violence sadly suffered elsewhere, and yet by seeking to disproportionately represent the far-right, Question Time risked fanning the flames of division across the country, of further misrepresenting a great town and perhaps worst of all giving the impression that abhorrent views are widespread enough to be acceptable.

“Not one of those is fitting behaviour from the world’s greatest broadcaster.”

Mr Warman also accused the BBC of thinking it was appropriate to ‘traduce’ the town and the QT audience and said the act ‘deserved an apology’.

He added: “If a special effort is made to invite extreme groups, everyone should be told.”

A spokesman for the BBC said: “The Question Time audience is always selected to ensure a balanced and constructive discussion. The episode was not disrupted in anyway - every application to be part of the Question Time audience has to go through the same rigorous background checks and in no way seeks to target one particular group.

“Separate to the audience vetting process Question Time always posts on a wide range of local social media forums as a way of making viewers aware upcoming shows will be on TV.”