A FAMILY man from Blacon has defended himself against claims he is a “UKIP activist” and hoodwinked BBC Question Time bosses to secure a place in the audience.

Stephen Ingram, 54, who stood as a parliamentary candidate for UKIP in 2015 but left the party soon after, made an impassioned statement on Brexit when the topical debate show was broadcast from Chester on Thursday.

The father-of-three told the panel: “Across the board in all parties you are failing to deliver the biggest historical democratic mandate ever issued in this country.

“You have a duty to dance to the tune that was given to you in 2016. Get on with it!”

Chester and District Standard:

Stephen Ingram speaking on BBC Question Time at Chester Town Hall.

His comment provided a perfect soundbite for many Brexiteers and has been shared widely on social media and other news outlets.

But some people in Chester have since accused the BBC of bias for giving a ‘UKIP man' a platform while reportedly refusing any of the pro-EU ‘Chester for Europe’ group a spot in the audience.

Labour councillor Ben Powell – who defeated Mr Ingram convincingly in the 2017 Blacon by-election – wrote a number of tweets on the matter.

He said: “Chances of appearing Labour supporter: 0.001% UKIP supporter: 100% here is your red carpet thanks for applying.

“#bbcqt refuse to put a Cheshire MP on, stick UKIP activists in as if they are members of the public and refuse to let genuine members of the public in. Let's not hurry in welcoming them to Chester again.

“Ah so #bbcqt put the UKIP candidate for Chester last time in the audience as if he is just some normal guy talking, but refuse the applications of people I know with no political affiliations at all.”

But Mr Ingram has now hit back, telling the Standard he no longer has an affiliation to any political party and has just as much right as anyone else to voice his opinion.

Chester and District Standard:

Question Time, presented by Fiona Bruce, was broadcast from Chester Town Hall in Thursday.

He said he had applied to appear in the Question Time audience around 18 months ago but wasn’t successful.

He then tried again and received confirmation a few days before the broadcast. He stressed he informed the woman who contacted him that he was a former UKIP parliamentary candidate.

“I know I went on that programme having been completely open and honest,” Mr Ingram said.

“I’m still entitled to have my view and to express what I think should be taking place based on what people voted for. If people within the local political spectrum are unhappy with that then tough.”

Mr Ingram, who is married and runs his own business, said that he was subjected to unacceptable hostility and abuse when he was out campaigning for UKIP prior to the 2015 General Election.

Chester and District Standard:

Mr Ingram at a debate prior to the 2015 election, which was won by Labour's Chris Matheson.

He felt ostracised, but when the British public voted to leave the EU in 2016 he finally felt like his long-held belief in Brexit had been validated.

He told this newspaper: “I can now go about my business in this country with my head held high, my shoulders back and not a care in the world.

“As for anyone out there still trying to make personal attacks on me, their argument is now a lame, dead duck. Our [Leave’s] argument in 2016 gained the biggest support in British voting history.”