Figures from a range of political parties are accusing Croydon Radio of deceiving them over the inclusion of local fascist Tony Martin in an “election special” aired last night.
Andrew Pelling, the former Croydon MP who presented a midweek show on the web-based channel, immediately resigned from the station because it had provided a platform for someone with racist and pro-repatriation views.
“It was a monumental error of judgement by Croydon Radio,” Tony Newman, the leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council, told Inside Croydon this morning.
“They had given me a clear impression that our and others’ concerns about not wishing to appear on a programme with a racist Holocaust-denier had been listened to. The pre-recorded interview they aired was a stunt designed to muddy the waters.”
Martin, who has sought election for the BNP in the past, is standing in next month’s Town Hall vote in Croham ward, ostensibly as a candidate for the National Front, although the NF will not allow him to use their name or symbols.
There is little doubt about his credentials as a fully paid-up racist. Only yesterday, Martin took to Twitter to state: “I live in West Thornton both here and Thornton Heath have to [sic] few Indigenous [sic] Britons left.”
Representatives of the Communists, LibDems and Labour parties had all threatened not to participate in the programme, presented by a public relations executive Bieneosa Ebite, if Martin was a part of it. When Martin was included on the programme schedule, one local party spokesperson complained that, “Bieneosa is trying to bully us into appearing with the National Front”.
They continued: “I have said that I cannot agree to that. She is telling me that I have no alternative but to withdraw.
“We are all volunteers at the end of the day. I’ve never done one of these shows before. But I do want to talk about the issues people keep telling me about on doorsteps. Those people deserve to be heard above the din of extremists.”
In emails seen by Inside Croydon, Ebite complained that she had received a number of emails from local politicians who objected to Martin’s inclusion in her programme, and that she regarded this as “harassment”. Poor dear.
But by 6pm last Tuesday, April 1, the station gave the appearance of dropping Martin from the programme’s running order, when Ebite wrote to their other guests: “Please note there have been some changes to the schedule and, as a result, timings have been revised slightly”. The accompanying listing had no mention of Tony Martin, either as a guest “live” on the show nor in a recorded segment.
It was not until the programme was underway last night that Ebite tweeted that they were about to broadcast a recorded interview with Martin.
Pelling, who is a regular contributor to Inside Croydon, immediately announced his resignation from the station.
“I am appalled that Croydon Radio should provide a platform for a party of such extreme racism for the trivial purposes of creating a bit of excitement and local controversy,” said Pelling, who is a Labour candidate in Waddon ward in the local elections.
“I had made it clear to Croydon Radio earlier in the week that if the NF were to appear on the station that my position would be compromised. The station management reassured me that my position was completely understood.
“I will not now appear on the station as a presenter nor as a guest when Croydon Radio makes such poor judgement about providing a conduit for a party of extreme racist views.
“Some of the guests invited on to Sunday’s Croydon Radio show with whom I have been in contact were given the impression that they would not be sharing airtime with the NF. They must be feeling deceived.”
There is a view that exposing the NF and other far-right groups to public scrutiny helps to undermine their support. When Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, appeared on Question Time, he was revealed as an incoherent, babbling fool.
But Question Time is a well-resourced BBC programme broadcast with a team of trained and experienced producers, all backed up by the BBC’s legal department. That programme is presented by one of the country’s most experienced and respected political interviewers… not someone without any formal journalistic training who is playing at being a broadcaster from the back of a suburban coffee shop.
By last night, the radio station’s management was back-pedalling faster than Bradley Wiggins.
The station’s poor judgement and mishandling of the situation appeared to be compounded further when Tim Longhurst, Croydon Radio’s founder, told Inside Croydon: “We are not aware of any assurances that Tony Martin had been withdrawn from the show.”
Longhurst must have missed Ebite’s duplicitous email to the programme’s guests last Tuesday.
“When asked, Bieneosa confirmed that he would not be participating in the live show.”
Note Longhurst’s dissembling use of “when asked”, underlining the station’s deliberate attempts at deception.
In his reply to Inside Croydon’s questions, Longhurst added, “If you wish to use this reponse [sic]… we politely ask that it be included in its entirety”. Clearly, Longhurst expects to be afforded more courtesy than Croydon Radio provided to its programme guests and other contributors last night.
Coming to Croydon
- David Lean Cinema: The Great Beauty, Apr 10
- Norwood Society Talk: Crystal Palace, Apr 17
- David Lean Cinema: Inside Llewyn Davis, Apr 17
- Opening of Marlpit Lane bowling and putting greens, Apr 17
- Arts and Crafts Market, Exchange Square, Apr 19
- Private Peaceful, Charles Cryer Theatre, Apr 23-26
- David Lean Cinema: Short Term, Apr 24
- Norwood Society Talk: West Norwood – a place of change, May 15
- Croydon RFC charity memorial day, May 17
- Norwood Society Talk: The Concrete Church, June 19
- Crystal Palace Overground Festival, June 26-29
- Norwood Society Talk: War Memorials, Sep 18
- Norwood Society Talk: From Fire Station to Theatre, Oct 16
- Norwood Society Talk: Lambeth’s Archives, Nov 20
Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 72,342 average monthly page views (Jan-Mar 2014)
If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at email@example.com