The British National Party has sensationally been barred from attending an election debate this evening
A row had broken out locally after Hastings MP Michael Foster refused to share the stage with his BNP rival Nick Prince at the hustings at the Crown House, Marina, St Leonards. This led to Tory hopeful Amber Rudd and Lib Dem candidate Nick Perry also pulling out of the event. This would have left just representatives of the BNP, United Kingdon Independence Party and the English Democrats.
However, the organiser of the event confirmed to the Observer this afternoon that the BNP candidate had had his invitation taken away. Brett McLean arranged the debate in his role as head of the local Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and described Mr Foster's stance as "a nail in the coffin for democracy".
However, he has been left facing an embarrassing climb-down after the national heads of the FSB ordered him to exclude the far-right party. He explained to the Observer: "I was told that the FSB wants nothing at all to do with the British National Party."
The Observer was unable to contact Mr Foster to ask whether he would now reconsider appearing. However, the MP had previously said he would turn up to the hustings - which gets underway at 6pm - and leave if the BNP were present.
Anti-fascists have also planned a series of demonstrations outside the venue and everyone going in will have to agree to be searched.