Scots nationalists challenge BBC over election TV debate
The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) launched a legal challenge Tuesday against the BBC over its exclusion from Britain's final pre-election television debate.
The nationalists, in power in Edinburgh, are furious they have not been included in Britain's first-ever televised clashes and lodged court papers in Edinburgh ahead of the third and last debate on Thursday.
Led by First Minister Alex Salmond, the SNP wants to be included in the clash on the publicly-funded broadcaster alongside Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Conservative leader David Cameron and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.
Judges could block the debate from being in Scotland, force a review of the debate or simply reject the case and are expected to hear the case Tuesday or Wednesday.
"This is a simple argument for fairness," SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said outside Edinburgh's Court of Session.
"The debate cannot and should not be allowed to go ahead while it excludes one of the main political parties in Scotland.
"This is not just about the SNP, this is about the right of voters in Scotland to have the choice they have on May 6 accurately represented to them."
The SNP went ahead with the legal bid after raising 50,000 pounds (80,000 dollars, 60,000 euros) for a fighting fund.
The TV showdowns have been credited with throwing the battle for the May 6 general election wide open after Liberal Democrat support surged following a strong showing by Clegg in the first debate.
Clegg condemned the legal action as "a measure of desperation on Alex Salmond's part", highlighting that the SNP was only fielding candidates in Scotland, not across Britain.
"The broadcasters have made their decision, they've invited the leaders of the parties competing across the United Kingdom to be prime minister of this country," he told the BBC. "So, quite understandably, they haven't invited Alex Salmond."
The move has also been criticised by Labour and the Conservatives.
© 2010 AFP