Ukip ‘will sue’ if Nigel Farage is not given equal air time to Labour and Conservatives in TV coverage building up to 2015 general election

‘Unthinkable’ to regard it as ‘just another minor party’, Ukip says

Ukip has reportedly threatened to sue the broadcasting regulator Ofcom if the party is not granted the same air time as Labour and the Conservatives in the build-up to next year’s general election.

Patrick O’Flynn, the party’s head of communications and a recently-elected MEP for the East of England, said that Ukip was now a “major party” and that its status as such should be reflected in coverage.

David Cameron has previously supported a “two-three-five” model for televised leadership debates – encounters between him and Ed Miliband; between him, Mr Miliband and Nick Clegg; and between the five leaders including Nigel Farage and the Greens' Natalie Bennett.

But writing to Ofcom chief Ed Richards, Mr O’Flynn said that it would be “unthinkable” to have a system that treated Ukip as “just another minor party”, the Sunday Times reported.

He pointed out that Ukip is currently polling at around 15 per cent among voters, and that the party took more than 150 council seats last month.

Patrick O'Flynn was elected as an MEP for Ukip in the East of England region last month Patrick O'Flynn was elected as an MEP for Ukip in the East of England region last month Mr O’Flynn also reportedly said: “There’s an overwhelming case for our party leader, Nigel Farage, to take a full part in any televised leaders’ election debates.”

If it receives major party status under Ofcom rules, Ukip will be given the right to air party election broadcasts on channels regulated by the watchdog, and it will change the way they are to be treated by the BBC.

On Friday it emerged that the BBC has already been swamped with complaints over its coverage of Ukip during the recent European elections – when it was treated as a major party.

Almost 1,200 people logged complaints saying they felt the broadcaster was biased in favour of the Eurosceptic party – thought to be the most ever received regarding its election coverage.

Yet it also divided opinion, with a further 149 complainants accusing the BBC of being unfairly anti-Ukip, while 73 said the coverage was biased against Labour.

A spokeswoman for the BBC denied there had been any bias towards or against any of the parties fighting last week’s local and European elections.

“Our coverage of all parties in the local and European elections has been proportionate and consistent with our guidelines on fairness and impartiality,” she said.

Mr Farage appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show again today, and said that there are “three dozen… two dozen seats that we will be targeting in 2015”.

Speaking about his own plans for standing as an MP, the Ukip leader gave his strongest hint yet that he will contest Thanet South, the seat he failed to win in 2005.

Mr Farage said there was a “distinct possibility” that he would challenge the south coast seat in Kent, but added: “That is as far as I am prepared to go”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
News
people
Sport
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert