Gary Anderson and Will Payne, Daily Mirror (London), April 4, 2010
The racist BNP is in turmoil after losing three senior officials in a bitter internal feud.
Leader Nick Griffin was forced to fire two aides and a third stood down after allegedly plotting a “palace coup” against him–leaving the far-right party’s election campaign in tatters.
BNP propaganda printer Mark Collett–twice exposed in TV documentaries as a racist who admired Hitler–was publicly dumped after he was named as the chief conspirator.
The party’s crucial national election organiser Eddy Butler was also sacked from his paid role and staff manager Emma Colgate has quit.
The turmoil, less than five weeks before polling day, is a huge blow to Griffin’s hope of winning the Westminster seat of Dagenham, currently held by Labour’s Margaret Hodge.
Griffin was already under pressure after his disastrous Question Time appearance last year and damaging allegations that he had cashed in on the European Union expenses “gravy train” since becoming a Euro-MP.
He has now been summoned to a crisis meeting of the party’s influential National Advisory Council.
A spokesman for Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation, said: “Griffin is really on the ropes.
“His Question Time appearance was an embarrassment and BNP members have been asking the same questions as everyone else about his EU expenses. He is struggling to hang on to control of his own party.”
Details of the “plot” emerged this week when high-ranking BNP organisers received an unsigned open letter outlining the details of an investigation by the party’s internal security team.
It claimed evidence had been uncovered of “financial irregularities” relating to the printing of election leaflets and the party’s bile-filled Identity magazine.
It said BNP printer Collett, 29, had been “relieved from all positions within the party” and accused him of plotting with “a small clique” to oust Griffin.
The party released a statement on Friday saying Emma Colgate had “decided to step down” to concentrate on her bid to win a Westminster seat.
BNP insiders told the Sunday Mirror Butler–who was central to the party’s national election campaign–has been replaced by North-West organiser Clive Jefferson.
The damaging feud follows months of discontent about Griffin after his disastrous Question Time appearance.
Ordinary members have been infuriated by recent revelations that a handful of Griffin’s party favourites are being paid generous salaries with EU money.
They are understood to be angry that Griffin insists on attending to “important business” in Brussels–where MEPs get £260 a day expenses just for turning up–instead of concentrating on the election.
A source said: “This could blow the party apart.”
BNP spokesman John Walker said yesterday: “We have no comment to make.”