Radio 4’s Any Questions? sparks debate at Barnham school

A SECONDARY school in Barnham played host to a live debate on the BBC on Friday evening.

Hundreds of thousands of listeners tuned into Radio 4 to hear the latest Any Questions? debate, which was held at St Philip Howard Catholic High School.

Panellists take their seats inside the hall at St Philip Howard Catholic High School

Panellists take their seats inside the hall at St Philip Howard Catholic High School

More than 200 people crammed into the school’s hall to witness the show and quiz the panellists, which included MPs Francis Maude, Norman Baker and Sadiq Khan, along with Dia Chakravarty of the TaxPayers’ Alliance

Philip Howard’s former assistant head, Bob Tebbit, kicked off the show. He asked the panel, chaired by presenter Jonathan Dimbleby, whether they thought the UK was likely to suffer a terrorist attack, similar to the Charlie Ebdo massacre in Paris, and what could be done to prevent it.

Speaking after the event, Mr Tebbit said: “It was a very strange and peculiar feeling which I’ve not had before. Yes, it was live and yes, there were over a million people listening so it was at the back of my mind when I was speaking.”

He felt the subject of his question was one of the ‘biggest stories in the world right now’ and that he was concerned there could be more attacks similar to it in the coming weeks and months.

He said the Paris killings had a very poignant and personal link.

“My sister lives in Paris so I was obviously very concerned about her while the whole incident was taking place,” he said.

Mr Tebbit was not the only person with links to the school to ask a question.

Sixth-form student Ray Baquiran, 17, quizzed the panellists on the statement released recently by the Church of England about the growing inequality in the UK – a question which prompted plenty of heated debate.

“It was very lively, the MPs and Ms Chakravarty gave their honest opinions I think and I did enjoy some of the heckling from the crowd as well,” he said.

The debate was organised by history teacher Chris Norris, who wrote to the BBC. This was the third attempt to get the broadcasters to the school.

He said: “It’s been absolutely fantastic. We first tried to get this organised 15 years ago on the school’s 40th anniversary. Nothing happened. We tried again on the 50th and again, nothing. So to have it here now is brilliant.”