Police have dismissed a complaint by the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, over disparaging comments made on the satirical TV programme Have I Got News For You.
The Sunday Times journalist and HIGNFY panellist Camilla Long joked on the BBC1 panel show last Friday that she had been to South Thanet, where Farage is standing, more times than the Ukip leader. “By the time I arrived there he’d only been a few times,” she said.
She was reacting as quotes were read to her of a piece she’d written about the area in Kent, calling it “grubby”, “Chernobyl-like” and like “a small nodule of erupted spleen”.
Farage said her comments were untrue and a breach of Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.
A Kent police spokesman confirmed the complaint was received about the broadcast. “The matter has been reviewed by officers but there’s no evidence of any offences and there will be no further action,” he said.
Farage criticised the BBC while campaigning in Aylesbury on Thursday, where he was mobbed by journalists and supporters in the town square. “I have no complaints about the other broadcasters. They have abided by the Ofcom ruling.
“But we have this bizarre state of affairs where we have the BBC, an organisation which we are all charged £145 a year to have the benefit of seeing, aren’t regulated by Ofcom and made their own minds up and frankly produce the news at ten every night as if there are just two choices in England,” he said.
“I think they have been biased and last night’s report about South Thanet frankly was outrageous.”
He also hit out at the makeup of the audience for Thursday night’s Question Time debate, and suggested that members had to be members of the Socialist Workers party to get in for the debate.
The makeup is a quarter Tory, a quarter Labour, a quarter Lib Dem and a quarter undecideds. The three main party leaders are being quizzed separately, from 8pm to 9.30pm, but Farage will not be on till later at 10.30pm.
“We’ll see what we get tonight but what I do know is the real audience will be sitting at home,” he said. “And tonight I will do my best to tell the truth, even though at times the truth is difficult to hear.” Asked whether he was submitting a formal complaint about the BBC coverage, he said: “Talk to my lawyer.”
Earlier, speaking on LBC on Thursday, Farage accused the corporation of “blatant prejudice” on immigration and on Europe and said the party had “complained like hell”.
“I think deep within their DNA is a north London metropolitan mindset that just doesn’t see what Ukip believes to be acceptable.
“Even through to a programme like Have I Got News For You last week, where comments were made about an individual in a constituency, namely me, that I just don’t think would have been said about any other candidate in the country,” he told Nick Ferrari.
“Time and again, we see the BBC treating us in a way that is really quite extraordinary.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Britain has a proud tradition of satire, and everyone knows that the contributors on Have I Got News for You regularly make jokes at the expense of politicians of all parties.”
Long said she had no comment to make on the complaint.
Farage has already formally complained to the broadcaster for their decision not to include him in the Question Time leaders’ special, which will be broadcast on Thursday night.
And Ukip made another formal complaint to the BBC earlier this month suggesting that the audience for the opposition general election debate was biased against the party. Farage took issue with the studio audience during the debate itself, saying it was a “remarkable audience even by the leftwing standards of the BBC”.
Farage is currently lagging two points behind his Conservative counterpart in the fight for South Thanet, according to the latest poll by the Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft, having pledged to step down as leader of Ukip if he loses.
• This article was amended on 30 April 2015. An earlier version referred to the Representation of the People Act 1918 where the 1983 act was meant.
This article was written by Jessica Elgot and Rowena Mason, for theguardian.com on Thursday 30th April 2015 14.25 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010