Scottish nationalists lose claim to join poll TV debate

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Scotland's ruling nationalists on Wednesday lost a legal bid to take part in a party leaders' televised debate ahead of British general elections next week.

A court in Edinburgh rejected an attempt by the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) to block the last television debate between Britain's three main national parties on Thursday.

The SNP mounted the legal action against the BBC's "inherently unfair" decision to exclude it from the last of three TV clashes, citing the public service broadcaster's requirement to show "due impartiality" in poll coverage.

"I am not satisfied that it is appropriate to grant the order sought," said the judge Anne Smith.

The SNP went ahead with the legal bid after raising 50,000 pounds (80,000 dollars, 60,000 euros) for a fighting fund.

The nationalists' legal bid had been condemned by Prime Minister Gordon Brown's ruling Labour Party, the Conservatives led by David Cameron and the Liberal Democrats.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon lamented the ruling, saying: "We are disappointed that the debate on Thursday night will go ahead without any substantial participation from the SNP.

"I believe that is wrong, it is unfair. We were simply asking for a fair hearing in that debate. I believe very strongly in the point of principle we were making."

© 2010 AFP

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