The British National Party was today barred from taking new members after its amended rules of application were deemed to be still racist.
Judge Paul Collins declared the far right group’s membership rules illegal, and said the party was “likely to commit unlawful acts of discrimination within the Race Relations Act”.
The BNP had agreed to remove its whites-only policy following a legal challenge by the government’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The party had previously stipulated that only “indigenous caucasians” and people from ethnic groups “emanating from that race” could join.
But it scrapped that clause–after months of delay–at an extraordinary general meeting in February.
However, the EHRC decided to challenge the new rules, claiming that they still amounted to indirect racism.
Sitting at Central London County Court, Judge Collins issued an injunction ordering the group to comply with race equality laws.
He said: “The membership list will have to be closed until then.”
The hearing had been told that, under the new rules, applicants would be subject to a two-hour home visit by BNP officials.
Robin Allen QC, representing the EHRC, said that could operate as a form of indirect discrimination.
“One way the provisions could operate would be to intimidate someone who wanted to join the party,” he said.
Speaking after the judgment, BNP leader Nick Griffin said the decision had “opened a very dangerous door”.
“It is a huge change to the unwritten constitution of Britain,” he said.
“They are claiming that they have been granted the right to interfere in what a party believes but the only people who have the right to judge are the electorate.”
He said the ruling was “more than symbolic”, adding: “It has given an organ of the state the power to interfere in the aims and objectives of any political party.”
Mr. Griffin, who had been met with angry scenes as he arrived at court–including a group of protesters who chanted “Nazi scum”–said there were about 7,000 people on the waiting list to join the party, including “a number of ethnic minorities”.
“It is only a couple of each,” he said, adding that there were two Chinese people on the list, several Sikhs and several West Indians.
He said that if the party was forced to pay £60,000 in costs it would have “some effect” on the general election campaign “but not a huge amount”.
Judge Collins ruled: “I hold that the BNP are likely to commit unlawful acts of discrimination within section 1b Race Relations Act 1976 in the terms on which they are prepared to admit persons to membership under the 12th addition of their constitution.”
The judgment found that, while it is not unlawful to hold discriminatory views, it is unlawful for such principles to be used for controlled entry to a political party, the EHRC said.
Susie Uppal, director of legal enforcement at the commission, said after the judgment: “The commission is glad that today’s judgment confirms our view that both the BNP’s 11th constitution and the amended 12th constitution are unlawful.
“Political parties, like any other organisation, are obliged to respect the law and not discriminate against people who wish to become members.
“The BNP will now have to take the necessary steps to ensure that it complies with the Race Relations Act.
“This matter could have been resolved last year by the BNP changing its constitution properly, rather than believing that it could find a way round discrimination laws so that it appeared to be open to members regardless of their ethnicity, while in practice continuing to prevent them from joining.”
The decision to change the BNP constitution came after the far-right party held an extraordinary general meeting in Essex on February 14.
Following the change in the constitution last month, millionaire Asian businessman Mo Chaudry said he would apply to join the party to “fight them from the inside”.
But he was told his application would be blocked.
Mr Chaudry, 49, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, said earlier: “They have no real intention of allowing people like me into the fold. It is just a camouflage to appease the system.”
Anti-BNP campaign group Searchlight described today’s judgment as a “devastating personal humiliation” for Mr Griffin.
A spokesman said: “His desperate attempt to give the BNP a veneer of respectability in time for the general election has been torn to shreds.
“The BNP has been proven in court to be as racist and extremist as ever.”
Weyman Bennett, general secretary of Unite Against Fascism, added: “The cosmetic changes that Nick Griffin tried to make were exposed as not being honest.
“I believe the BNP wants to pervert our democracy in order to introduce racist policies into the mainstream.”