April 26, 2010 / 5:38 PM / 10 years ago

SNP raises funds for TV debate challenge against BBC

LONDON (Reuters) - The Scottish National Party (SNP) said on Monday it had raised the 50,000 pounds needed to launch a legal challenge against the BBC over its exclusion from the live televised leaders’ debates.

Scotland's First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Alex Salmond (C) poses with supporters for a photographer on a balcony, as the 2010 general election campaign started, in Edinburgh, Scotland April 6, 2010. REUTERS/David Moir

The leaders of the three main parties have jousted over domestic and foreign policy issues in the first two of three planned U.S.-style television debates that have enlivened the campaign ahead of the May 6 election.

Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has seen his popularity soar in opinion polls on the back of his assured performance.

The SNP, which has always argued it should be part of the debates, has raised 50,000 pounds in two days and will lodge the necessary papers at the Court of Session on Tuesday.

The party says the publicly funded broadcaster has a clear duty to “properly and fairly reflect the political make-up of this country.”

The SNP, which holds 7 of the 59 Scottish seats in Westminster, specifically targeted online donors.

“Donations have come in from ordinary Scots who simply share our anger at the way Scotland has been treated by the BBC,” SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said in a statement.

The BBC is holding separate leaders’ debates in Scotland, as well as other interviews.

“We believe the national debates, and these additional specific and guaranteed opportunities to air views about the UK-wide debate, will ensure due impartiality is achieved in line with the BBC’s election guidelines,” a BBC statement said.

The third and final debate on Thursday will focus on the economy.

Writing by Avril Ormsby; Editing by

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