THE BBC have refused to answer vital questions posed by The National following accusations of bias in how the audience for Question Time is chosen.

William Mitchell, a failed UKIP candidate, claimed that he had been personally invited to appear in the BBC show's audience for the fourth time, despite the BBC claiming that there is a "detailed application process" for selecting who will be invited to take part.

The loyalist, who doesn't even live in Motherwell where the show was recorded, was personally invited to travel through to take part after asking for clarifications over an invitation to appear in the audience of a different BBC panel show.

The National felt that not only had his appearance misrepresented the local area, but had potentially acted outwith the BBC's own rules.

We posed the following six questions to them:

  • How do you justify going out of your way to insert Mitchell, who is well known for making bitter rants about the SNP and independence, into an audience which is supposed to be genuinely representative of Motherwell?
  • How do you justify giving him airtime over people who live in the local area and want a rare chance to hold politicians to account?
  • Whose decision was it to invite him on to the show?
  • On how many other occasions have you added somebody into a QT audience so they can deliver a particular political agenda?
  • What is the procedure for selecting a Question Time audience – and did this break your own rules?
  • Will you be issuing an apology to the people of Motherwell for misrepresenting them on a UK-wide channel?

The response we received failed to answer a single one of our questions.

They said: "Given the strict rules on data protection we are not able to talk about individual cases.

"Although there are no hard and fast rules about how many times someone can appear in a Question Time audience, we want to allow as many people as possible the chance to be part of the programme so we would not normally allocate a seat to someone if they had appeared recently.

"There is a detailed application process, with a request for photographic identification and every audience member is spoken to individually, sometimes by phone.

"We continually review our systems and processes in this area.”

The BBC claims that audiences north of the border are not intended to represent the local area where the show takes place, but to be representative of Scotland as a whole. They also pointed out that the programme is broadcast to the entire UK.