BNP faces legal battle over equality
By Peter Wozniak
The British National party (BNP) faced the next stage in an ongoing legal battle with the equality watchdog at the high court today.
The row stems from a case brought last year by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) forcing the far-right party to redraft its constitution to allow non-white members to join.
Lawyers representing the EHRC called for BNP leader Nick Griffin to be found guilty of contempt for failing to comply with the prior ruling to remove clauses that might be considered racist from the constitution.
Mr Griffin did not attend the court session as he is currently in hospital.
A statement on the party’s website read: “Mr Griffin is in extreme pain and the doctors want him to undergo further treatment today.”
The BNP leader added of the case: “It is most certainly going ahead, and our legal team will be there even if I am not.”
Reportedly one hundred BNP supporters demonstrated outside the high court during the proceedings.
The EHRC has claimed that the changes to the constitution could continue to discourage mixed marriages and integration of ethnic minorities with “indigenous British” people and still require new members to undergo a vetting process by party officials.
A judge ruled that the revisions to the constitution could still be considered indirectly discriminatory in March. Further changes by Mr Griffin have been argued by the EHRC to be largely cosmetic.
The far-right party has been in a spiral of decline since a disastrous general election performance saw Mr Griffin soundly beaten in east London by Labour’s Margaret Hodge and the loss of all the BNP’s seats on Barking and Dagenham council.
Since the election the party has been further marred by public spats between BNP officials, including the expulsion in September of its only Greater London Assembly member, Richard Barnbrook.
The BNP is also thought to be in severe financial difficulty, with reports that the party is now half a million pounds in debt.
Michael Gove, the education secretary, recently announced BNP members would be banned from becoming teachers.