The leader of the British National Party told a jury yesterday that he believed Islam was a “wicked, vicious faith”.
Nick Griffin, 46, is on trial accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words intended to stir up racial hatred. He and party activist Mark Collett, 25, were both charged over comments they made in a series of speeches that were covertly recorded by a BBC reporter in 2004.
Griffin, a Cambridge graduate, who is married with four children, went in the witness box to give evidence in his own defence at Leeds Crown Court.
He said he genuinely believed that Islam was a “wicked, vicious faith”, but added that this was not a criticism of Muslim people.
Griffin described Britain as “a disaster” because of its attempts to become a “multi-cultural paradise”.
The court heard that he made a speech at Shelf Village Hall, Halifax, in which he said that an elderly Asian man had been the subject of a “wicked attack” in a London subway and that whoever carried out should be hanged.
Griffin said the large crowd at the meeting had broken out into an “immediate, spontaneous and generous burst of applause” and after being shown the video in a police interview, he told the officers: “There’s no hatred in this audience and there’s no hate from me.”
He said that he admired people of all races. Far from being a racist, he said, he believed that white people convicted of a vicious murder should hang.
Griffin said: “I admire people of all races but I would prefer my children, my people, to keep themselves to themselves. It causes problems.”
He said his Sikh friends felt this too, adding: “They want their grandchildren to look like they do.”
Griffin told the court he did not hate Muslims or Asians, claiming it was Islam which was responsible for problems sweeping country after country. Griffin, of Llanerfyl, Powys, Wales, denies two charges of using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred and two alternative charges of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred.
Collett, of Swithland Lane, Rothley, Leicestershire, denies four charges of the first offence and four of the latter.
The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.