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Academic fears boost for BNP with Question Time appearance.

Tonight's appearance by BNP leader Nick Griffin on BBC One's Question Time could lead to a massive boost for the far right party, according to an academic.

Jim Shields, an Associate Professor in French Studies at the University of Warwick, warned that a TV appearance by French politician Jean-Marie Le Penled toamassive boost in his popularity.

Mr Pen, leader of the Front National was a guest on prime-time show L'Heure de vrit (The Hour of Truth) in 1984.

Dr Shields said: "This was February 1984, when Le Pen and the Front National were still almost entirely boycotted by the media and electorally insignificant. "The programme attracted a lot of opposition and large viewing figures. Le Pen acquitted himself well, under pressure, and dispelled something of his 'bogeyman' image.

"In the days following, the Front National reported a rush to join, raising its claimed membership to 30,000. Thiswas an implausible claim - real membership probably rose to less thanhalf that figure - but it is clear the TV programme had a real impact in legitimising Le Pen and drawing new people to his party.

"This single hour on prime time television paid huge political dividends for Le Pen and the FN."

The BBC has come under heavy criticism for its decision to invite Mr Griffin onto Question Time The BNP was involved in further controversy this week when it suggested former army chiefs General SirMike Jackson and General Sir Richard Dannatt could be tried for war crimes after they accused the party of "hijacking" military symbols for their own advantage.

INSIDE: Agenda, page 23
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 22, 2009
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