Scotsman.com, July 17, 2004
The British National Party is considering taking legal action after Barclays froze up to six of its bank accounts.
The move came after a BBC documentary team secretly filmed members of the BNP confessing to race-hate crime. BNP chairman Nick Griffin reacted by threatening legal action against Barclays, claiming the move breached European human rights legislation.
He branded the decision “absolutely scandalous” and admitted the party might now find it difficult to open accounts with other banks.
According to sources, Barclays was already reviewing its position on the BNP before the BBC’s Secret Agent film. However, the bank has refused to comment on the matter, citing client confidentiality.
Meanwhile, West Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service issued a joint statement in the wake of the Secret Agent film which said officers were collecting tapes from the programme makers.
They said the broadcast “raises a number of issues which warrant further investigation”, and that it was liaising with programme makers.
“Working with our colleagues in the Crown Prosecution Service we will be reviewing the material to identify what, if any, information of evidential value it contains and decide on the appropriate action,” according to the statement.
Mr Griffin said a member of the party’s treasury department was informed about the freezing of its accounts yesterday afternoon.
He said: “This is an attempt to ban us by the back door. The next move will be to look at the legal position.
“Barclays may find themselves up against European human rights legislation. We have the right to hold political opinions and to impart them.”
Mr Griffin said the party’s money had effectively been “stolen” and claimed it amounted to thousands of pounds.
He added: “There was enough money to run a small but effective political party.”
The party must have a bank account in Britain to comply with electoral commission regulations, Mr Griffin added.
Mr Griffin said: “It is quite possible that we will not be able to find another bank. We can’t keep money under our mattresses.”
ScottsMan, July 15, 2004
A BBC reporter who spent six months undercover with the BNP recorded another
of the group’s members, Steve Barkham, confessing to taking part in a racially-motivated
attack on an Asian man during the 2001 Bradford riots.
Both Mr Barkham and Dave Midgley, a BNP candidate for council elections, have
now been expelled by the party.
Mr Griffin continued his tirade against the Islamic faith on Thursday, branding
it “a monster in our midst”.
In an interview broadcast on BBC’s Newsnight, he apologised unreservedly for some comments made during the documentary.
On Thursday, there were also calls for Home Secretary David Blunkett to act against the BNP.
Magistrate Bary Malik, president of Bradford’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said: “I hope David Blunkett will take some action. The Home Secretary should see there’s no room for a party like this.”
In Parliament the BNP was dubbed a party of “vile Nazis and thugs” by Commons Leader Peter Hain as all sides of the House condemned the far-right group.
Inayat Bunglawala, a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain, said that the documentary “has clearly exposed the British National Party for what they really are.
“They have tried to cover themselves with a thin veneer of respectability in describing themselves as a political party.”
The BNP took nearly a third of the votes in a council by-election result in east London’s Barking and Dagenham borough on Thursday night.
The result at Valence ward came less than an hour after a BBC expose of the party. Its candidate, Lawrence Rustem, came just over 10% behind Labour’s winner Donald Hemmett.
Next door in the London Borough of Havering, in a by-election at Rainham and Wennington, the BNP’s Mark Blunden polled 549 votes—256 behind Labour’s
Tony Ellis, who pipped the Tories by a margin of 29.
In Blackburn with Darwen, Lancashire, BNP candidates Nicholas Holt and Anthony Dailly failed in their attempts to take two seats in the Labour stronghold ward of Earcroft.
BNP Website, July 19, 2004
Barclays Want to Steal Your Vote—but can’t think of the right excuse. BNP Chairman, Nick Griffin reports.
Confusion reigns this morning in Barclays Bank PLC over what seems to have been an over-hasty move by their PR department to announce a top level decision to close down the BNP’s bank accounts held with them. The local branch holding the accounts still knew nothing whatsoever about the decision this morning. Similarly, the promised “urgent letter” to our National Treasurer from Barclays, which was supposed to arrive without fail today, still has not materialised.
Whether this is just incompetence on their part, or whether their Legal Department are still desperately trying to come up with a form of words which will not potentially land them with problems in any possible court action. In the meantime, the Barclays branch in question has told us that our accounts are not closed or frozen, and that we can continue banking as normal. Cheques are being deposited and drawn on as per usual.
Our Legal Department have been researching the issue all weekend, and we will be putting their skeleton argument on no fewer than ten possible areas for legal redress to our London solicitor and a barrister within the next 24 hours. The failure of the British Government to implement fully European Directive 9546 on banking confidentiality and related matters is of particular interest.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission have been quick to note the potentially very serious nature of this attack, since any party which is denied the capability to run its finances openly within the UK could well be regarded as being in breach of the Commission’s very properly strict procedures for ensuring transparency and acountability in party political funding. As a result, the Barclays move is being discussed at a special meeting of the Electoral Commission today.
In various parts of the country, BNP organisers are planning demonstrations against local Barclays branches. Several branches have already carried out spontaneous protests, including one in Edinburgh on Saturday.
The Barclays eagle—preying on British voters?
“Barclays want to steal your vote” is emerging as a popular slogan, on account of the fact that the Electoral Commission would have no option but to deregister any party which cannot meet its requirements, which means that an inability to bank in Britain could lead to the BNP being barred from standing in future elections.
This affair is not therefore just an attack on the BNP, but on the right of every elector in Britain to have the right to choose from a full slate of candidates. Mr Blunkett, Mirror Group Newsapers and the sordid porn baron who owns the Daily Express may not understand it, but democracy is as indivisible as free speech:
Either everyone has it or no-one does. BNP members and supporters are also telephoning or writing to their local Barclays branches expressing their disgust at the bank’s attack on democratic freedom, and threatening to take their accounts, credit card business and mortgages elsewhere.
Business as usual
Meanwhile, since the party leadership foresaw such an attack a long time ago, other, reserve accounts with other banks are being swung into action. All donations, subscriptions and such like should therefore be sent in as normal. Many thanks to all concerned, especially the non-BNP supporters who have sent donations as a way of expressing their belief that it is fundamentally wrong in principle that a capitalist bank should feel justified in taking steps which could close down lawful political party, regardless of what that party may believe in.