By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter
A televised debate on the London mayoral election has been criticised for failing to include all the candidates in the race.
Earlier this week, the current Mayor of London Sadiq Khan went head-to-head with his Conservative rival Shaun Bailey in a 30-minute debate on BBC One moderated by BBC political editor Tim Donovan.
But several of the other candidates in the running to be Mayor of London have hit out at the decision not to include them in the debate.
Liberal Democrat candidate Luisa Porritt said: “London has an election system that means voters have a wider choice of candidates, but sadly that wasn’t reflected.
“What Londoners saw instead felt more like a schoolboy argument in the playground than a debate about the future of London.
“We have a Mayor who won’t take responsibility for anything and a Conservative candidate who doesn’t speak for Londoners’ values.”
Green Party candidate Sian Berry, who officially launched her election campaign this week, said that it was a “huge error” to exclude the Greens from the “dismal debate” that “let down voters”.
Ms Berry said: “Londoners watching at home will have been aghast to see three men stood at podiums discussing women’s safety, while the women candidates’ voices were silenced.
“All the main parties need to be challenging the current Mayor for his job.
“In the London Assembly I have been a far more effective challenger to Sadiq Khan for the past five years and he knows it.
“It is no accident that current polling puts the Greens on course for another record result in May.
“I’m sure the BBC will see how they have let down voters in London by shutting out the Greens, when we could have raised the standard of the debate and inspired our city with our fresh thinking on the issues which matter.”
Meanwhile independent candidate Brian Rose said that the decision not to include other candidates was “a lazy approach to politics” that “is helping to suffocate democracy”.
Following the debate, there was an announcement that BBC London would be “speaking to” both Luisa Porritt and Sian Berry “very soon”, though a format has not been confirmed.
Londoners will also hear from “all the other candidates when we know who is standing”.
Though many candidates have announced their intentions to run for Mayor of London, the official list of candidates will be released no later than April 1.
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