Radio station accused of deceit over inclusion of NF guest

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.

croydon radioAndrew 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.

Andrew Pelling: resigned from Croydon Radio

Andrew Pelling: resigned from Croydon Radio

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.

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12 Responses to Radio station accused of deceit over inclusion of NF guest

  1. davidcallam says:

    Andrew’s resignation will do infinite damage to Croydon Radio’s limited credibility, while Martin and Ebite are both nonentities who possibly deserve each other.

    The decision to broadcast an interview with Martin shows very poor editorial judgement. Shame its happening in Croydon.

  2. Arfur Towcrate says:

    Permit me to put forward a contrary view.

    Tony Lee Martin is exercising his democratic right to stand for election. The party he’d seek to represent and the views he holds are controversial. By putting him on air – little different really from Party Political Broadcasts on national television – listeners got the opportunity to hear what he really thinks.

    Bieneosa’s interview was, I think, skilful and respectful towards her subject yet incisive and probing. Tony started off well, and did not say anything that would lead to legal action against him, but as time went on, he exposed himself (ooh, er, missis) as someone whose stance on key social issues the majority of listeners and voters will have found repugnant. Bieneosa didn’t give Tony a platform – she built him a scaffold and he hung himself from it.

    I think Croydon Radio were right to put him on, and think it’s a shame that Andrew Pelling has resigned over the issue. Voters are adults, and should be trusted to make up their own minds. We’d rue the day that those who engage in yah-boo politics inside the Town Hall are allowed to censor freedom of speech outside it.

    The last words should go to Evelyn Beatrice Hall – “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” .

    • The Mill philosophy has already been well aired. But that stopped being the issue long ago.

      Any broadcaster that deliberately misleads or deceives its interview guests over the composition of the programme it intends to make will very soon find that it has no future guests.

      Under the BBC’s Producers’ Guidelines, it is absolutely clear that all guests should be afforded the courtesy of an honest answer about the composition of the programme they have been asked to appear on. Any BBC producer breaking those requirements in the manner which happened here would expect to be fired.

  3. David Aston says:

    Andrew Pelling or “Mr Croydon” as he likes to be known, will not be missed anywhere in this town. On Radio Croydon, or anywhere else for that matter. He is only in politics for “Andrew Pelling” and no political party. When the Labour Party, (as did the Conservatives), has had enough of him, he’ll be flying another flag don’t worry about that.
    As much as I detest of the National Front and the BNP, we are still in a DEMOCRACY! If you wish to gag such people like Tony Martin, this democratic right is denied. If you are stupid enough to abstain from arguing against them and prove them wrong publically, you only give them the publicity they want.
    Get real politicians, get a grip, show us that your views are worthy opponents to both far left and right wing extremism that, in itself, threatens our democratic freedom of speech. Pelling, amongst others, just prove they are not up for the fight against such extremism. They run away. Appalling behaviour.

    • When someone begins a comment with a false premise, then it is reasonable to assume that the rest of what they have to say is probably garbage, too.

      I can honestly say that I have never heard anyone, least of all Andrew Pelling, ever state that they wish to be known as “Mr Croydon”. Utterly ludicrous.

      David Aston at no point in this self-important diatribe states that he is a candidate in the local elections for UKIP. Which sort of makes him a party politician, too.

      It is not surprising that he fails to understand, or respect, that someone else will act on the basis of their own principles. But then, as we mentioned, Aston is standing on behalf of UKIP, and no one knows what their principles are, or even if they have any at all.

      • davidjl2014 says:

        With regard to your first two paragraphs, may I quote a Chinese saying “what appears to be so, is often not so”. Former MP’s may well disagree with what you said..
        However,if you need to know more about UKIP’s “principles” may I suggest you look at the UKIP website. There are many there.
        Furthermore, I was not expressing a UKIP view here, which is why I didn’t mention my involvement, this was merely a personal opinion about democracy and political debate. It was Inside Croydon who brought UKIP into this equation.
        I hope that this website will do their utmost to provide future articles with an unbiased stance, so readers can make their own minds up on May 22nd. This will ratify the importance of the service you provide. Thank you.

        • Let us give you a new English proverb: Repeating a lie does not make it any less of a lie.

          Your “Mr Croydon” claim was a fabricated piece of crap. Trying to justify it with some bogus piece of ancient folklore doesn’t alter that.

    • mraemiller says:

      “If you wish to gag such people like Tony Martin, this democratic right is denied.”

      There is a difference between gagging someone and not promoting them. The power any individual promoter has to control society by not booking someone is underrated. If there is money to be made, usually denying them one platform will only mean they are picked up by another.

      It is possible that this isn’t all a totally cynical conscious plot to deceive the guests on the programme, but the result of a lack of any clear decision-making process in a body run by some kind of committee.

      I would also postulate that views of Mr Martin’s such as “there aren’t enough indigenous people”, that the Holocaust didn’t happen (did he actually deny the holocaust or did he just hang out with people who do?) aren’t actually illegal. Is supporting voluntary repatriation illegal? Is supporting forced repatriation illegal? Where exactly is the line between obnoxious stupid ill-informed factually wrong opinion, and “hate speech”?

      I mean you give a platform to Class War – are they not as dodgy? Jon Bigger may claim to use his brain before his fists, but did he really distance himself from Class War’s traditional historical tactics of …erm … using its fists?

      And while they mean well, it always strikes me as a little Mary Whitehousesque how much time and effort the UAF put in to telling us such people should not have a platform by recording their every pronouncement on blogs and websites all over the internet. Of course, anyone who appears on the White Power radio channel probably is a hard-line racial separatist (the clue’s in the name) but Mr Martin is unusual in terms of NF/BNP supporters in that sometimes he is moderately cogent and not completely stupid.

      But anyway the biggest recruiter to the far right is neither Tony Martin or Bieneosa Ebite but the huge number of elected politicians caught claiming dodgy expenses or in dodgy conflicts of interests. Nothing feeds the extremists like sleaze from the outwardly respectable middle. Nothing did more for the BNP than the Telegraph expenses scandal.

  4. Ken Towl says:

    Croydon Radio purports to be providing a service to voters. We should be able to hear candidates’ views and make our minds up.

    However, it is unrealistic to suggest that Tony Martin has any chance of getting elected or reflecting views that more than half a dozen people will agree with. This looks like an ill-thought out attempt by Croydon Radio to stir up a bit of controversy.

    There is something disproportionate in giving air time to someone so extreme that they that he is to the right of the racist BNP and is purporting to be in the long-discredited National Front (even though they appear to be embarrassed by him), He is irrelevant.

    It is to his credit that Andrew Pelling took a stand on this.

  5. davidcallam says:

    If I were a sceptic, which thank goodness I’m not, I might wonder whether Croydon Radio saw this silly stunt as a way of drumming up extra listeners. Surely not!

  6. davidcallam says:

    I couldn’t resist the temptation to listen to the Croydon Radio podcast of Bieneosa Ebite’s interview with National Front election candidate Tony Martin.
    I imagined it would either be toe-curlingly sycophantic or unnecessarily aggressive: it was neither. She handled the whole thing very well.
    I particularly enjoyed her questioning about the NF’s repatriation policy. Martin was forced either to abandon his party’s stated view or tell this black woman where to go. She explained that she was born and bred in the leafy south London suburb of Clapham, but he still chose to invite her to return to Nigeria.
    In one short exchange Martin made a complete idiot of himself. Because she is of Nigerian heritage Ms Ebite was much more effective at ridiculing his racism than David Dimbleby or any other white interviewer could have been.
    Well done Bieneosa; I’m about to devour a large slice of humble pie.

    • Up to a point, Lord Copper.

      It was one of the better interviews.

      But the programme has for some time now seemed like a blurring of the line, PR being passed off as journalism. This time, unlike recent broadcasts where the interviewer did not seem to bother listening to the answers (Lesson #1 at junior broadcast journalism school), on this occasion Bieneosa Ebite did indeed take on board what her interviewee was saying. As long as it was on the topic of her own subjective interest.

      Yet Martin’s attempts to disguise his apparent anti-semitism (“The ‘olocaust? Nah. Never ‘eard of it guv”) were allowed to pass by by Ebite. A more experienced, or attentive, or professional interviewer would have made more of this swerve around the denial of the Holocaust.

      But none of that is really the point (oh, how Ebite has tried so hard to turn herself into the “victim” in this matter).

      More important is the deceit employed by Ebite and the station management to deliberately mislead the other guests into appearing on a programme when they had made it plain that they were uncomfortable being on a show with the NF.

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