Leaders debate: Ukip wants an inquiry into the ‘left-wing’ bias of the BBC and suggests audience members lied about their political beliefs

Deputy Ukip leader Paul Nuttall says party may complain over unfair audience while colleagues brand the debate a 'bad night for the BBC'

Matt Dathan
Friday 17 April 2015 16:14 BST
Nigel Farage said he was left with no choice but to work with the Conservatives
Nigel Farage said he was left with no choice but to work with the Conservatives (BBC)

Deputy Ukip leader Paul Nuttall suggested Ukip may demand an inquiry into the BBC's handling of the leaders' debate after Nigel Farage attacked the broadcaster for fielding an audience with a "left-wing" bias.

Mr Nuttall said the members of the audience were not representative of the British public and suggested the bias was due to some of them having lied about their political persuasion on their application forms. But he dismissed the in-house audience as “irrelevant”.

Mark Reckless, one of the party’s two MPs, said it was “a bad night for the BBC,” while Ukip MEP Patrick O’Flynn said his leader was “the only grown up in a student debate”.

The Ukip leader responded by accusing the broadcaster of selecting a “remarkable audience even by the left-wing standads of the BBC”.

Speaking to reporter in the spin room after the debate Mr Nuttall said: "I am not sure whether we will complain. All I will say is I didn't think the audience was representative of the views of British people.

"I think Nigel Farage would have done very well with people sitting at home. Who knows, may be some people are being disingenuous on their application forms."

Asked if adopting an attack on the audience was an easy get out clause for dismissing opposition to Ukip's views, he added: "Oh no. People at home agree with us and that's what really matters - the millions of people at home watching this. We know, for example, on immigration, on the European Union they agree with where Ukip stands.

"What the audience in here really think is, I suppose, irrelevant."

He said the audience “clapped like mad” when left-wing policies such as scrapping Trident were mentioned by the other leaders, but “you could hear a pin drop when Nigel Farage spoke about controlling our borders”.

One member of the audience who he offended was a Ukip supporter, who described Mr Farage’s attack on the BBC as “stupid” and said he was now “undecided” over who he would vote for.

He also said the Ukip leader was “stupid” to repeat claims that foreigners abused the NHS for HIV treatment. He added: “I thought Nicola Sturgeon was great. I was going to vote Ukip.”

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