BNP Facing Legal Action Over Membership Rules

London Telegraph, August 24, 2009

The Equality and Human Rights Commission today began legal action against the British National Party over concerns about ethnic restrictions of its membership.

The Commission issued county court proceedings against the party after voicing concerns in June about the BNP’s constitution and membership criteria.

The BNP responded by saying that it intended to clarify the word “white” on its website, but the Commission said it believed the party will continue to discriminate against potential or actual members on racial grounds.

“The BNP’s membership criteria appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular “ethnic groups” and those whose skin colour is white. This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act.

“The Commission believes the BNP’s constitution and membership criteria are discriminatory and, further, that the continued publication of them on the BNP website is unlawful. It has therefore issued county court proceedings against party leader Nick Griffin and two other officials,” said the Commission in a statement.

John Wadham, group director, Legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: “The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful.

“The Commission has a statutory duty to use our regulatory powers to enforce compliance with the law, so we have today issued county court proceedings against the BNP. However, the party still has an opportunity to resolve this quickly by giving the undertaking on its membership criteria that the Commission requires.”

[Editor’s Note: The BNP’s reply, with screen captures from various websites of organizations that restrict membership by race, can be found here.]

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