By politics.co.uk staff
The British National party (BNP) may face a legal injunction over its whites-only membership policy after the equality watchdog demanded a change to its constitution.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) today wrote a letter to the party demanding it address potential breaches related to its constitution and membership criteria, employment practices and provision of services to the public and constituents.
The letter, which was sent to party leader Nick Griffin, outlines concerns the Commission has with the party's compliance with the Race Relations Act and calls for a written undertaking by July 20th that it will make the necessary changes, or face an injunction.
John Wadham, EHRC group legal director, said: "The Commission's statutory role includes a duty to investigate possible breaches of discrimination law and take action where appropriate.
"We await a response from the BNP to our letter before deciding what further action we may take. Litigation or enforcement action can be avoided by the BNP giving a satisfactory response to our letter."
The Commission has a statutory duty, under the Equality Act 2006, to enforce the provisions of the Act and work towards the elimination of unlawful discrimination. The duty includes preventing discrimination by political parties.
The current thinking is that the BNP's constitution and membership criteria may discriminate on the grounds of race and colour, contrary to the Race Relations Act.
The party's membership criteria restricts membership to those within what the BNP defines as an "ethnic group" and those whose skin colour is white.
This exclusion is thought to be contrary to the Race Relations Act which the party is legally obliged to comply with.
The Commission has required the BNP to provide a written undertaking that it will not discriminate contrary to the Race Relations Act in its employment and recruitment policies, procedures and practices.
There are also concerns among officials that elected BNP representatives may not intend to provide services on an equal level to all constituents regardless of their race or colour.