BBC pulls South Cambs MP Heidi Allen's episode of Have I Got News For You
PUBLISHED: 16:52 13 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:11 13 May 2019
South Cambs MP Heidi Allen was set to appear on BBC One's Have I Got News For You on Friday evening - only for the episode to be pulled shortly before it was due to air.
Hat Trick Productions, which makes the programme, tweeted at about 7.40pm on Friday to say that the episode featuring Mrs Allen - the interim leader of the Change UK party - was not to be shown at 9pm due to election guidelines as it is the run up to the The European Parliament elections on May 23.
Their tweet said: "Sorry everyone. The BBC have pulled tonight's edition of #HIGNFY.
"We booked Heidi Allen, a member of a party no-one knows the name of (not even the people in it), because the Euro elections, which nobody wants, may or may not be happening. Sorry."
The BBC released a statement, which said: "The BBC has specific editorial guidelines that apply during election periods.
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"Because of this it would be inappropriate to feature political party leaders on entertainment programmes during this short election period, which does not allow for equal representation to be achieved. "So we will not broadcast the scheduled episode of HIGNFY featuring Heidi Allen, leader of Change UK. We will look to broadcast this episode at a later date."
Mrs Allen took to Twitter to question why her appearance was cut yet Nigel Farage, current leader of the Brexit Party, had been shown on BBC1's Question Time on Thursday. He was also on HIGNFY in 2014 in the run up to the last European elections.
She said: "Maybe I'm just not as funny as Nigel Farage eh #hignfy @haveigotnews!? He's so funny, he seems to be on the BBC all the time! An explanation would be appreciated, not least to acknowledge the hard work of the entire crew who worked diligently to put the show together."
MP Chris Leslie - Change UK's campaign co-ordinator - has written to Lord Hall, director general of the BBC regarding their coverage of Change UK.
In the letter, it states: "Heidi Allen was reassured by the programme producers that her participation was in full compliance with the election broadcast guidelines ahead of the programme recording."
He then asks whether the editorial policy guidelines have changed since Mr Farage's 2014 HIGNFY appearance, and says: "At Change UK, we value the BBC, it's impartiality and integrity, and hope this can be safeguarded."