BBC newsnight Dieudonné Soral
Jeremy Paxman interviews Alain Soral on BBC's Newsnight BBC

BBC's Newsnight has been criticised for interviewing a controversial far-right French writer about anti-Semitism while failing to tell viewers of the interviewee's own anti-Jewish beliefs.

Jeremy Paxman interviewed Alain Soral, a former member of the far-right French National Front party whose publishing company was ordered by a judge to withdraw from the market a book, Anthology of Remarks Against Jews, Judaism and Zionism, in 2013.

Newsnight was reporting on the outcry caused in France by Dieudonné, the comedian who conceived the anti-Semitic downward Nazi salute known as quenelle which was copied by footballer Nicholas Anelka.

Newsnight, hosted by Jeremy Paxman, focused on freedom of speech in France after Paris tried to block Dieudonné from a national tour because of the row.

Paxman introduced Soral, a friend of Dieudonné, as "the French writer and film-maker Alain Soral". Seconds earlier, a photo of Soral making a quenelle at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin had appeared on screen in an introductory piece by BBC reporter Hugh Schofield.

The photo was shown as evidence that, despite Dieudonné's claims that the quenelle was an anti-establishment gesture, it was being used by some of his supporters to offend Jews.

Alain Soral quenelle
French far right film-maker Alain Soral, a friend to comedian Dieudonné makes the Quenelle gesture at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin Twitter

"For many who use it is an overtly anti-Jewish gesture. These pictures were clearly taken to offend at sensitive Jewish locations," Schofield said.

But critics were angered that the programme failed to underscore that the man in the picture and the guest interviewed were the same person.

"We are disturbed that the BBC would interview a known anti-Semite on an issue related to anti-Semitism without identifying him as such," a spokesperson at the Anti-Defamation League told IBTimes UK.

Paxman made no objection when Soral repeated claims that the quenelle was "a gesture anti-system, against the powers that be in France".

Soral had been accused of anti-Semitism in the past and supported Dieudonné's 2009 bid for the European parliament on an "anti-communitarist and anti-Zionist" platform.

The website, which often condemns the Corporation for alleged bias against Israel, said that Newsnight had fallen short of the BBC's editorial guidelines.

"Had viewers been informed of Soral's background, they may of course have been able to put the statements he made during the interview with Paxman into their correct context. But they were not," the website said.

"The fact that Newsnight breached BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality by not informing audiences of Soral's "particular viewpoint" is abundantly clear.

"What is less comprehensible is why in the first place the editor of the programme considered the airing of Soral's anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to be of any contribution to the public's understanding of the issue under discussion."

No one at the BBC was available for a comment as we published.