I just happened to stumble across an article on your website, quoting a piece from the Independent newspaper: Alarm Over Rise of BNP, posted on February 23, 2009. I myself attended the Swanley by-election count in question, and was therefore shocked to read of this Labour activist Lesley Dyball’s bare-faced lie that BNP members present chanted “Blacks Out” when the result was announced.
This did not happen. All BNP members present conducted themselves impeccably throughout, as we always do.
As Michael Barnbrook states below, had this incident actually taken place, there were several police officers present throughout the counting process, and they would have been quick to make arrests. I know you have reprinted this article in good faith, coming as it does from a supposedly reputable newspaper. I am surprised that the Independent did not make further enquiries before going to print, as they must have known of the police presence and that such an incident would not have escaped attention.
You yourself probably know of the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) dictat that journalists must not give the BNP any positive coverage. However one would expect them to stop short of printing outright lies.
We have learned to expect unfair treatment at the hands of our own press, but I am concerned that your readers will now have the same bad opinion of the BNP that has been painstakingly fostered in Britain. Please find below Michael Barnbrook’s respone to this gross calumny. The media onslaught against the BNP has now begun in earnest as the BNP are widely tipped to win seats in the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament in June, for which I am proud to be standing as a BNP candidate for the London region. Roberta Woods
Michael Barnbrook, Member of the London Assembly, Calls for Investigation.
Michael Barnbrook, Bexley Branch, today made an allegation to the Kent Constabulary Racial Incident unit of a race hate crime.
The allegation relates to an article by Jerome Taylor in the Independent Newspaper published on Saturday 21st February, 2009, reporting the victory of the British National Party in the Sevenoaks District, Swanley Council By Election on Thursday 19th February, 2009. The article quotes a Labour activist by the name of Lesley Dyball claiming that British National Supporters chanted “blacks out” after the result was declared at Swanley Town Hall.
Michael was a polling agent at Swanley Civic Centre, where the count took place, between 7.30am and 11. 30pm. He was in the Civic Centre during and after the result had been announced and is emphatic that no such incident took place.
There were three police officers on duty at the count, including an Inspector, a Sergeant and a Constable, who, if such an incident did take place, would surely have reported the incident and made arrests.
The Returning Officer actually thanked everyone at the count for the smooth manner in which it had been conducted.
Michael is alleging that the comments allegedly made by Lesley Dyball, if the article is correct, amount to an intention to stir up racial hatred, an offence under the Public Order Act, 1986. He is asking for a full investigation to take place into the allegations made in the newspaper article.
Michael is prepared to make a statement and attend court to give evidence, if necessary. Michael is requesting that all members present at the count contact the Kent Constabulary Racial Incident Reporting Line on 0800 138 1624 to complain about the newspaper article and request an investigation.