BNP faces new legal threat
By politics.co.uk staff
After a disastrous election the British National party (BNP) faces the threat of a new court action from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The case could see party assets seized or even leader Nick Griffin fined or jailed for contempt of court, the Guardian reports.
Last year the party was ordered to remove parts of its constitution which prevented non-whites from joining. Although those clauses were removed, the government equalities body believes the revised constitution is still discriminatory.
Last March, Judge Paul Collins ruled the clause which requires members to oppose “any form of integration or assimilation of… the indigenous British” could not be something someone of mixed race, or someone in a mixed race relationship, could endorse.
He also ordered the party to remove a stipulation that potential members be vetted in their homes by two party members, as that could be intimidating for non-white applicants.
Mr Griffin has redrafted the constitution, but the new document shows slight amendments to the offending clauses, not removal.
The home visit clause is retained under an ‘annual visit criteria’, without which members may not attend meetings or vote.
Paul Epstein QC from Cloisters Chambers in London, a specialist in discrimination law, told the Guardian: “This seems like a slightly hapless attempt to get round the injunction by moving the offending section to a different part of the constitution.
“There seems to be no doubt that what they have done goes against the spirit of Judge Collins’ ruling at the very least. They’re taking a real risk of being found in contempt of court. This is particularly the case for Griffin, given this role he has in changing the constitution.”
The wording on “indigenous British” is also kept in the document under a heading of “temporary amendment” saying it will be reinstated after a successful appeal against Judge Collins’ ruling.
Any legal action by the EHRC will have to wait until a new government is formed. The Guardian reports that the watchdog has written to the BNP about its concerns and is awaiting a reply.