Ukip’s leader in Scotland David Coburn is set to handpick the party’s Holyrood candidates, according to a leaked email.

The MEP who has put himself forward as a candidate for the Scottish Parliament could now decide which region to stand in and even place himself top of the list.

Furious party members claim he will also use the powerful position to parachute key allies into electable positions.

It is understood Coburn is eyeing the Highlands and Islands region, while his assistant Colin Bolder could top the party’s list in Mid Scotland and Fife and interim Ukip Scotland chairman Calum Walker may be the number one choice in the North East.

Michael Burrows, Caroline Santos and Kevin Newton are also expected to be highly placed.

Recent polling suggests Ukip could win seats in the Scottish Parliament under the proportional list system which sees voters use their second preference to select a political party.

UKIP Scotland’s democratic decision-making functions were suspended by the London-based party hierarchy in 2013 during a period of infighting.

Coburn said last week that these so-called “special measures” mean Holyrood candidates would be picked and ranked by Ukip director Paul Oakden, a UK official who was the regional organiser for the East Midlands and a former council candidate south of the border.

“He does the candidates’ assessments with the team and they rank the candidates,” Coburn said.

On why the Holyrood selection process is being determined by officials outside Scotland, the MEP said: “I prefer to have that as I don’t want any accusation of bias.”

But an email sent to party members by Mr Oakden yesterday rubbished Mr Coburn’s claims and insisted the MEP would decide on candidates.

It states: “I will not be ranking candidates in Scotland, I am not picking the lists for Scottish regions, nor am I allocating candidates to regions.

“The NEC, who will ultimately decide the final lists have determined that the UKIP Leader in Scotland should devise a list, including candidate rankings for each region of Scotland.”

The email goes on to say that the process is “underway as we speak”.

On why Ukip is the only party not to reveal its Holyrood candidates, Mr Oakden added that the delay is “regrettable” and admitted there had been “difficulties” with the assessment of party members.

Mr Coburn is now expected to face a revolt from Ukip members at a meeting due to be held today to rubber stamp his choices.

Party members, who asked not to be named, accused Ukip’s National Executive Committee of allowing Mr Coburn to ride roughshod over local democracy.

One source said: “Last weekend David Coburn was quoted as saying that candidates would be imposed by Paul Oakden, the party director. The National Executive Committee (NEC) is, in fact, allowing Coburn to create a candidate list when he is a candidate.

“The NEC is not prescribing a ballot, as they did to allow Welsh members input on candidate selection. The NEC has chosen to continue special measures since Coburn, who is on the NEC, came to office.”

Another party member said: “Coburn is now expected to promote the new unelected interim chairman, Calum Walker, for the North East region; his assistant Colin Bolder in Mid Scotland and Fife; Michael Burrows in the West of Scotland region; as well as allies Caroline Santos and her partner Kevin Newton.

“The Coburn candidate list will almost certainly have Coburn at the top of a regional list in the Highlands and Islands, so that he can parachute himself in to the Scottish Parliament.”

Another Ukip Scotland source added: “The party is stitching up the Scottish membership at every turn. If the NEC approves Coburn’s list at a meeting today we can expect the muppet show at Holyrood.

“Coburn cannot then get on a soap box speaking of democratic deficit in the EU when he and the NEC deny democratic process in Scotland.”

Mr Coburn, who is a member of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group in the European Parliament, said he was aware of the allegations but he did not respond to a request for comment.