DUP welcomes Cameron’s final debate offer to BBC

DUP Leader Peter Robinson and deputy Leader Nigel Dodds
DUP Leader Peter Robinson and deputy Leader Nigel Dodds

The DUP says the ball is now in the BBC’s court after David Cameron made his final election debate offer – and staunchly defended the unionist party’s argument for inclusion.

The DUP had threatened legal action against the BBC for excluding it from the broadcaster’s UK party leaders’ debate – despite including other regional parties which have significantly fewer MPs.

On Thursday the BBC Trust decided not to uphold the DUP’s appeal.

However, Craig Oliver, the Prime Minister’s director of communications, has now written to the BBC with his final debate offer, criticising the broadcaster for initially planning to exclude the Green Party. “Three months later – and again without consultation – you surprised us again by proposing a new seven-party structure, this time not only inviting the Greens, but Plaid Cymru and the SNP as well.

“Again, this was a flawed proposal that has resulted in the DUP initiating what appears to be legitimate legal action,” he wrote to the BBC.

Mr Oliver made a final offer of one 90-minute debate between seven party leaders before the campaign, adding: “The leader of the DUP should be allowed to make his case for why he should be involved.”

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds welcomed the proposal, adding “the ball is now very much in the broadcaster’s court”.

Mr Dodds said that an independent commission should now organise the debates.