BNP Leader Faces Race Hate Charges

Press Association (UK), Apr. 6

The leader of the British National party was today charged with four race hate offences, police said.

Nick Griffin, 45, was arrested at his home in mid-Wales last December by West Yorkshire police as part of a long-running investigation into the BBC programme Secret Agent.

Mr Griffin answered his bail today at Halifax police station and was charged with four offences of using words or behaviour intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.

The Secret Agent documentary, screened in July last year, featured undercover filming of BNP activists.

Mr Griffin will appear before Leeds magistrates court tomorrow.

Earlier today, the BNP founding chairman, John Tyndall, was charged with two offences of using words or behaviour intended or likely to stir up racial hatred.

Mr Tyndall, 70, of Brighton, was arrested in December last year following a speech he made in Burnley in March 2004 as part of the same investigation into the BBC documentary. He will also appear before magistrates in Leeds tomorrow.

More than 250 BNP supporters from all over the country, draped in Union and St George’s flags, gathered outside the police station as Mr Griffin answered his bail this afternoon.

The party had organised what it described as “a freedom of speech” rally, to highlight what it claimed was a campaign to stop it speaking about immigration.

Mr Griffin arrived at the police station to loud cheers from supporters.

The crowd chanted “Freedom, freedom” as he launched an attack on the government and West Yorkshire police.

Before he was charged today, Mr Griffin told protesters: “We’re not going to protest by rioting. We will leave that to the far left and the Muslims.”

People of all ages held “Fighting For Democracy” placards and cheered as a bagpiper played.

More than a dozen police officers monitored the demonstration.

Mark Collett, 24, a BNP activist from Leeds, has also been charged today with eight counts of the same offence and will be appearing at Leeds magistrates court tomorrow with both Mr Griffin and Mr Tyndall.

The charges follow a joint investigation by West Yorkshire police and the Crown Prosecution Service casework directorate.

Later Mr Griffin emerged from the police station and made the victory sign to the crowd. He told them that he had been charged for telling the truth and would use his trial as a platform for defending the party’s belief.

He said: “Whether I am found guilty will depend on the jury and whether someone should be jailed for telling the truth.”

Mr Griffin told reporters that he had “no regrets” and “would continue to tell the truth” even if he had to go to jail.

Mr Griffin led a rendition of Jerusalem followed by the Lord’s Prayer before leaving in a people carrier.

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