UK

Nigel Farage Accuses BBC Of 'Planning Attack' As Ukip Leader Confirms Commons Tilt

15/08/2014 11:42 BST | Updated 15/08/2014 11:59 BST

Nigel Farage has claimed that the BBC is planning an attack on Ukip - even though the corporation has been accused of being biased towards the right-wing party and giving it too much airtime.

The BBC programme Panorama is apparently "preparing to repeat allegations made by people hostile to Ukip," Farage has said, in "an apparent bid to try and halt Ukip's advance."

Farage has written to Panorama boss Elizabeth Byrne, a post on Ukip's website says, and claims he is "refusing to cooperate with the programme because of its biased agenda."

He has also demanded that his letter be read out in full in any programme that is broadcast.

nigel farage

Nigel Farage is angry with the BBC

Ukip claim that "it is rattled Labour activists who are now attempting to discredit Ukip, using the same techniques that flopped for the Tories and the Times in the run-up to the European elections."

However, past complaints about the beeb, suggest it is far from biased against Farage's party. The BBC received more than 1,000 complaints about its coverage of the European and local elections in May, saying it was biased towards Ukip and giving the party excessive air time.

There are just 149 complaints saying it had been biased against the party in its coverage, the Guardian reported.

A channel editor at BBC News was also axed from coverage of the elections after tweeting a derogatory comment about the party.

The BBC Charter includes and obligation to "ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality."

But 1,190 people accused the BBC of either having given too much coverage to Ukip, or being biased in favour of the eurosceptic party - the most complaints the BBC has ever received about its coverage of a party during an election.

More than 70 complaints were made claiming a bias against the Labour party, though there were absolutely no complaints of a bias in favour of Labour.

Ukip party members have enjoyed ample airtime on BBC shows, in particular on Question Time where Farage became "a usual suspect" in the run up to the elections.

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In total, Farage has appeared on the show's panel at least 16 times since 2009 - more than the entire Green party, which has only appeared 11 times, earning the BBC the new title of "The Nigel Farage Show."

During the run up to the elections, hardly a week went by without the party strongly featuring on the programme.

Patrick O'Flynn, the director of communications, Diane James and Louise Bours also appeared on the show.

Bours became a social media sensation after going head-to-head with "football's philosopher king" in one of the most surreal political debates in modern history.

But the BBC defended its coverage.

"Our coverage of all parties in the local and European elections has been proportionate and consistent with our guidelines on fairness and impartiality," said a spokeswoman for BBC news and current affairs at the time.

A petition calling for Farage to stop being given "disproportionate airtime on Question Time," received more than 2,000 signatures at the time.

Thousands asked the Executive Editor for the BBC, Hayley Valentine, to "not normalise his vile politics."

One backer wrote The BBC has "no business giving Mr Farage disproportionate airtime. Balanced coverage is at the heart of the public service broadcasting mission of the BBC."

In good news for fans of Farage's frequent appearances on the BBC, he has today announced he wants to stand in the South Thanet seat in next year's general election - so he should be back on our screens soon.

Farage said he had "thrown my hat in the ring", ending months of speculation that he was lining up the Kent constituency as his target for the 2015 contest.

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Farage will stand in the South Thanet seat in next year's general election

In his column in The Independent Mr Farage insisted it was not a certainty that he would be selected by the local party but added: "I think I stand a good chance of winning".

"It may seem silly to some that the leader of a party would have to go through the process of being approved and selected but, I assure you, rank means nothing in Ukip," he said.

"Just as I applied to stand again as a Ukip MEP and went through the same assessment as other candidates and faced the vote of the membership with everyone else, I believe that the power to select the person they will be pounding the streets in all weathers for lies with the members of the branch themselves.

"Of course I think I stand a good chance of winning. I have fought the seat before and it is in my home county of Kent and an area I have represented in the European Parliament since 1999. But with Ukip members, nothing is ever for certain. And that's just fine by me."

Ukip and the BBC have been contacted by The Huffington Post UK for comment.

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