BNP forced to pay legal costs in white membership case

Nick Griffin, British National party leader
Nick Griffin, British National party leader

By politics.co.uk staff

The BNP will be forced to pay legal costs in a case against their 'whites only' membership policy after turning up to court unprepared today.

The party had waited until last night to brief their legal team on the matter, meaning the case had to be adjourned until October 15th.

The party will therefore have to pay legal costs, which will be assessed at the next session.


Judge Paul Collins said: "This is an application by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for an injunction against three officers of the BNP.

"To put it very crudely for the purposes of this morning, the commission take the view that the terms on which the BNP admit persons to membership is in breach of the Race Relations Act because it discriminates against persons on the grounds of race and they want an injunction to stop it."

A BNP spokesman claimed to politics.co.uk the adjournment was a result of Nick Griffin being required in Brussels.

He added: "The BNP has had this policy for 20 years. This action by the commission is obviously politically motivated, due to the recent success the BNP had in the European elections.

"We are quite hopeful that we will be successful, when we come back."

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) issued county court proceedings against the party last week in respect of its constitution and membership criteria.

The equalities commissioner is seeking an injunction against the party.

John Wadham, legal group director at the commission, said: "The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful.

"The commission has a statutory duty to use our regulatory powers to enforce compliance with the law, so we have today issued county court proceedings against the BNP.

"However, the party still has an opportunity to resolve this quickly by giving the undertaking on its membership criteria that the commission requires."

The action is the climax of a process which began in June, when the commission sent a letter to the BNP setting out its concerns about its membership criteria.

The BNP responded by claiming it would "clarify" the word "white" on its website, but the commission said it believes the party will continue to discriminate against "potential or actual members" on the basis of race.

The party's 2005 constitution states that: ""Membership of the BNP is strictly defined within the terms of, and our members also self define themselves within, the legal ambit of a defined 'racial group' this being 'indigenous caucasian' and defined 'ethnic groups' emanating from that race as specified in law in the House of Lords case of Mandla V Dowell Lee (1983)."

But the commission argues that the exclusion of ethnic groups is contrary to the Race Relations Act.

The county court proceedings are against party leader Nick Griffin and two other individuals. They were heard in Central London County Court this morning.

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