THERE were heated exchanges about the wearing of the Muslim burka when a national radio show was recorded in Burnley.

BBC Radio Four’s Any Questions has an audience of around one million.

On the debating panel were Kelvin MacKenzie, the outspoken former editor of The Sun newspaper, North West UKIP Euro MP Paul Nuttall, former Arts Council chairman Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, and Baroness Haleh Afshar, a cross-bench peer.

Some of the most angry exchanges came when the subject of the Muslim burka was raised by an audience member.

Mr Nuttall defended his party’s controversial policy to ban the full veil in public places, claiming the measure was needed for national security.

Baroness Afshar said the debate should also focus on other religious clothing, like a nun’s habit, and added: “If we are in a free country, people should have the choice.”

Mr MacKenzie claimed the wearing of the full burka would die out in this country.

The question arose after a British Airways worker lost her legal battle to be allowed to wear a Christian cross at work.

Sir Christopher said: “If someone wants to wear the badge of their faith, why shouldn’t they? It’s not harming anyone.”

Earlier Mr MacKenzie had provoked angry shouts from the audience when he claimed elderly people should not expect state help when they grow old, claiming even people in poverty “had family” to look after them.

The Rev Andrew Froud, of St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Clitheroe, had asked a question about the current debate between the main political parties over adult social care.

Mr Nuttall accused the Conservatives of “playing politics” by running a poster campaign about Labour plans for a £20,000 “death tax”.

The half-hour debate, recorded at the Thomas Witham Sixth Form Centre, Barden Lane, was hosted by Shaun Ley, of Radio Four’s The World At One, a last-minute stand-in for Eddie Mair, who was ill.