Nick Griffin may be joined by senior Labour figure in BBC debate

Labour considers U-turn over policy of not engaging with the far-right

Labour is considering dropping its opposition to sharing a platform with the far-right, meaning that a senior Labour figure could debate with Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, on the BBC's Question Time.

The BBC has yet to issue a formal invitation, but is preparing to invite Griffin onto the programme for the first time, following the BNP's success in the European elections.

The broadcaster said it was bound by rules requiring it to treat all properly registered political parties with "due impartiality".

Many parties, including Labour, have previously refused to appear alongside the BNP on the grounds that it would legitimise the party's views on race. However, there is growing concern that ignoring the BNP allows it to win support by portraying itself as outside the traditional political system.

Labour announced yesterday that it was reviewing its policy of not engaging with the BNP, but made it clear that it would not force anyone to sit alongside Griffin if they objected.

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have both said they would debate with the BNP. The Tories say that there is evidence that the BNP fares less well in areas where its policies are challenged by mainstream parties.

Two BNP candidates, including Griffin, were elected to the European Parliament in June. The party also has a member on the Greater London Assembly, and this year won its first seats on county councils.

Many of the areas where it has broken though, such as Burnley, Stoke, and Barking, were previously dominated by Labour.

Representatives of other minority parties, such as Ukip, Respect, and the Greens, have appeared many times on Question Time.

A BBC spokesman said: "Due impartiality is achieved both by ensuring appropriate scrutiny for each party and by the appearances of a range of politicians across a series of programmes.

"Our audiences - and the electorate - will make up their own minds about the different policies offered by elected politicians."