In the wake of the much-hyped Panorama documentary aired on Monday, we publish some of the allegations originally made against Nick Griffin and the BNP. As I was at an inaugural meeting of a new BNP Branch (which went splendidly, with interested members and members of the public overflowing the room to hear the speeches), I did not see this programme but am reading that it was something of a damp squib, and the BBC thought better than to include many of the Internet gossip based allegations.
Nick Griffin says: "Dark forces are at work trying to kill our party using every weapon at their disposal. We are fighting back, and here we publish questions put by the smearmongers of Panorama together with our answers. The propagandists at Panorama and the renegades, malcontents and agents working with them hope to demoralise and dishearten our supporters. They will fail. Read the truth before you hear the lies...
PLEASE NOTE: Panorama have sent us ten pages of questions! In this mail out we have room for three pages. The FULL document is now published on our website as promised, and also emailed to everyone with an email address. Those who do not have access to the internet and wish sight of the full document please call us on 0844 809 4581."
BNP Chairman Nick Griffin answers Panorama disinformation:
"First let me state that the British National Party does not accept that the BBC is intending to produce a balanced documentary. Even your choice of subject reveals your real motivation. We expect, given your long track record, a biased hatchet-job based on the testimony of political opponents, paid agents and those with personal grudges against me. That is why you have failed to secure a face-to-face interview. Panorama runs to the same business model as the News of the World (NOTW), using dishonest sensationalism to attract an audience and viewing the frequent pay-outs for slander as just another business cost. The only difference is that at least the NOTW used its own money, whereas you people force licence-payers to pick up your bills. You have zero credibility in our eyes.
We regard you as part of the opposition to our party. You form part of a campaign aimed at destablising the Nationalist movement at a time of great opportunity. Any 'Nationalist' co-operating with you is a traitor and a turncoat. Despite the established bias of your programme and the BBC, I shall reply to the lies and disinformation you seek to peddle with the truth and accurate information. I will publish this response on the British National Party website, as we want our members and the public to see it in full, without your editing tricks and distortions."
ALLEGATION: That the BNP fraudulently uses European money to fund national party work, in breach of European Union funding regulations. ANSWER: The British National Party does not use European Union (EU) money in this way. We are not in breach of any EU funding regulations. The allegations have been made by individuals or factions with grudges or personal financial vested interests in unseating me. The body charged with responsibility to monitor the financial compliance of the complex European regulations is OLAF. We are working well with them and fully co-operating. We are systematically answering unfounded allegations with fact and evidence. We await their deliberations and considered advice at the end of this process and expect constructive suggestions about procedural matters. It would be inappropriate and misleading for the BBC to make any statements pre-judging issues on the basis of information supplied by those with axes to grind. You should await the findings of the regulatory body tasked with such matters.
ALLEGATION: Officials employed by you at your European HQ in Wigton, Cumbria and paid for by European funds, spent the vast majority of their time/working day on national party matters. ANSWER: The allegation is untrue, and you give us no source or evidence to support it. All EU Local Assistants keep detailed work logs showing work done during their contractual hours. These logs are inspected internally and can be made available on request from any appropriate authority. Some staff have separate Party contracts for some working hours. Additionally, staff may volunteer hours for the Party outside of their contracted hours. Any staff failing to keep logs or not keeping to their contracts would be investigated under my disciplinary procedures. OLAF are the appropriate body to consider such matters, as stated above, and we are fully co-operating with them.
ALLEGATION: That the BNP submitted fraudulent election returns in respect of the 2010 General Election, in breach of electoral law. ANSWER: Our Treasurer, working closely with the Electoral Commission and the external Auditor, prepared and submitted election returns on time, using his best endeavours and in good faith on the basis of the information available to him, the records compiled by his predecessor. Subsequently, malicious allegations were made to the Electoral Commission after publication. The Commission considered these allegations and found no breach of electoral law in relation to the 2010 General Election campaign submission.
ALLEGATION: You signed the Barking constituency expenditure returns on the (sic) June 3rd 2010, which included unpaid bills which had been represented as paid. ANSWER: The declaration signed by me was in good faith on the basis of returns prepared and presented to me by my Election Agent, Richard Barnbrook. He prepared the Return in consultation with the then Treasurer of the Party, David Hannam.
ALLEGATION: Your BNP treasurer Clive Jefferson, instructed a junior member of staff Marion Thomas to falsify expenditure records for the 2010 general election which were then submitted to the Electoral Commission, in breach of election law. ANSWER: Our Treasurer, working closely with the Electoral Commission and the external Auditor, prepared and submitted election returns on time, using his best endeavours and in good faith on the basis of the information available to him. Subsequent allegations were filed with the Electoral Commission after publication. The Commission considered these allegations and found no breach of electoral law in relation to the 2010 General Election campaign submission. I understand that our Party Treasurer strenuously denies any suggestion from Marion Thomas to do anything other than represent the truth. I also dispute your description of Marion Thomas as a “junior employee” as she had supervisory responsibilities. Further, Marion Thomas, as well as being the sister-in-law of Jim Dowson, our then fundraiser, was centrally involved in the upkeep of Party invoices and payments. Marion Thomas made no mention of this allegation until she was made redundant as a consequence of the closure of the Belfast Office and after the termination of the contract with Jim Dowson. She is currently pursuing an Employment Tribunal claim against the Party but never mentioned any such allegation in the ET1 form she filed. If you intend to use any of Ms Thomas’s allegations, it is incumbent on you to point out to your viewers the fact that she now works for the Britain First fund-raising operation run by her brother-in-law, Jim Dowson, so that they can consider the possibility that she has a personal interest in trying to do the British National Party down.
ALLEGATION: That the official BNP accounts are regularly submitted late and compiled in a flawed, chaotic and unreliable manner. ANSWER: As with any rapidly expanding organisation, whether a business or a political party, we have encountered difficulties in structural adjustments. It is true that, like many other political parties, we have not always met deadlines set down by the Electoral Commission, but at each stage of our development we have sought to follow the advice of both the independent Auditor and Electoral Commission to improve our systems. The review of the Treasury Department carried out by the Financial Scrutiny Committee of the Party and incoming Treasurer have already identified previous weaknesses in our systems and moved swiftly to correct them through fundamental improvements to the way we operate. In summary, the complete separation of Regional and Central Party accounts – the removal of the Treasurer from Party bank accounts, and the employment of a retired chartered accountant whose job is the upkeep and maintenance of our financial records – solves many of the previous problems we identified. It is important to state here that the current delay in submissions to the Commission of the 2010 accounts stems from the unexpected serious illness of a contracted accountant, matters outside Party control which have been fully explained to the Commission. A breach of electoral law would only occur if a Treasurer submits late submissions "without reasonable excuse". We have provided the Electoral Commission with the full details and circumstances of the delay, and in the light of this we consider no breach of electoral law has occurred.
ALLEGATION: For two consecutive years your own auditor has not been able to describe the BNP annual accounts as, “true and fair, and in respect of the accounts for 2009, he said they cannot be classed as “true and fair” in the usual definition of that term.” This represents a possible breach of section 41 of the PPERA. ANSWER: This indicates that our Auditor is genuinely independent. Again I remind you that the Electoral Commission rules on these matters, not Panorama. The 2009 accounts have been submitted, accepted and the matter closed. I refer you back to my previous answer concerning improvements to our systems.
ALLEGATION: Last August the Advisory Council of the party was informed in a “Treasury report” that it had “current liabilities” of £575, 330.90. What is your position on the “current liabilities” of the BNP? ANSWER: Our current liabilities are in some cases disputed or the subject of possible counter claims. In other cases, payment agreements have been reached. I am confident that the Party is able to meet all our much-reduced genuine liabilities. Reports are given to the appropriate authorities and to Party officials. The Treasurer informs me that a detailed financial report stating exact liabilities and accounts for the first three quarters of 2011 will be presented to British National Party members at our next Annual Conference in October. Members will be given the opportunity to examine the books and ask questions of our Treasury Department. The good news in our constantly improving finical situation will be presented to our members at conference and not to a Panorama witch hunt.
ALLEGATION: The BNP, including current and former officers of the party are contesting or can anticipate being involved in a number of legal cases, exposing the party and/or the officials, to liabilities of approximately £300,000. ANSWER: Your figure is pure speculation. Your figure is based on the highly unlikely scenario that we would lose not only each of the cases currently against us but also potential cases that may not even be brought, and that we would be unable to take effective counter measures, to argue costs down as per normal procedure, or to win a forthcoming claim for professional negligence. Given our previous record in winning cases, not least against the Equality Commission, such blanket failure is highly unlikely. Time will tell, but we can rely on Panorama not to inform the public when such cases go in our favour.
ALLEGATION: You have authorised the bugging of people in your party. ANSWER: Panorama used covert recording equipment in its failed attempt to have me jailed for raising the scandal of Muslim gang grooming of young girls. Panorama staff are the buggers, not us.
ALLEGATION: During a trip to Belfast on or about Friday 26th November 2010 to recover BNP property from the former BNP offices in Dundonald, Ms Marion Thomas was held against her will by senior BNP officials pending the delivery of the equipment owned by the BNP. We have been told that you were aware of this as it was happening. ANSWER: The officials that you have alleged were involved have told me Marion Thomas is lying and that they strongly deny her defamatory allegations. I was not present in Belfast on that date and was not aware that any such allegation had been made. Ms Thomas was made redundant by the Party and has made a claim to an Employment Tribunal. Curiously, she has made no mention of this in her ET1 form. Nor am I aware of any complaint ever having been made to the Police. She has certainly never complained to me. If such a complaint was made, it seems bizarre that no one was ever approached about it. It really beggars belief that it is mentioned only now in the context of your smear programme.
ALLEGATION: Libelous leaflets were distributed in the home town of your former web master Simon Bennett, after he left the BNP. ANSWER: I have read reports of this. Perhaps he should take legal action against those responsible. Many people have mentioned the names of Jim Dowson and Paul Golding in connection with these alleged events, but I have no way of knowing whether this is true. You could perhaps ask them, as they are collaborating with you in your hatchet job. The Party was not involved.
ALLEGATION: That under your leadership the party has suffered a collapse in support over the last eighteen months. ANSWER: Under my leadership I have taken the British National Party from an unelectable fringe group with a few hundred members to (in your own words) a “major political party” and a household name which has taken two EU parliamentary seats. We currently have 10,000 members. We have been under sustained attack since winning our two European seats. With my team, I am confident, however, that the ConDem regime will grow ever more discredited as their austerity measures begin to bite. I believe that events will prove that the British National Party has been right all along on issue after issue. The issues that led people to vote for us and join us are not going away, and neither are we.
Clive Jefferson answers Panorama smears
ALLEGATION: During a trip to Belfast on or about Friday 26th November 2010 to recover BNP property from the former BNP offices in Dundonald, Ms Marion Thomas was held against her will by you and two other senior BNP officials pending the delivery of the equipment owned by the BNP. ANSWER: Marion Thomas is the sister-in-law of Jim Dowson. The allegations she and he have made are ridiculous and beggar belief. The answer provided by Nick Griffin is accurate and reflects my personal view also. I would like to add, however, that I was in the company of two of my colleagues throughout negotiations concerning the return of property belonging to the British National Party. They share my disgust and disappointment that a disgruntled former employee has resorted to such obvious and easily disproved lies. Mr Griffin was at no point involved in events that day. I was very pleased that property belonging to our party was eventually returned.
ALLEGATION: Mr Jim Dowson says that at a meeting with you in 2010 he was asked by you to help obtain forged documents and refused. Specifically to persuade Romac Press to provide forged invoices in order to place party debts personally upon GLA member Richard Barnbrook and bankrupt him. ANSWER: Mr Dowson has no credibility with members of the British National Party. He is widely despised and regarded as a snake-oil salesman who is motivated only by money. Mr Dowson wishes to harm the British National Party in the hope that his new money making scam 'Britain First' will reap the benefit. I hope that you have not paid him a fee, Dowson, his sister-in-law, Paul Golding and the rest of the chancres you have as “whiteness” in this witch hunt are only interested in one thing: making money and they are using Panorama as a means to that end. I deny any wrongdoing in relation to Richard Barnbrook. Please do not contact me or any of my staff again in relation to this non-story.
Linda Kitchen answers Panorama:
ALLEGATION: You may feature in the programme because of newspaper reports (and other material available on the internet) alleging you, though a BNP election candidate, have performed and starred in pornographic videos. ANSWER: You raise old gossip already published, as you say, in the low-brow tabloid press and on the Internet. I have apologised to the Party for any embarrassment any of my actions may have caused them. Anything I have done is my personal responsibility and does not reflect on other members of the Party. Me and my husband, Ian, have resigned from any positions we held in the British National Party. I have made it clear that I will not seek office within the Party or put myself forward for public candidacy. I will remain a Party member as I believe that events prove that the British National Party is right about immigration, social and economic decline and a wide range of other issues. For the full list of questions and answers visit www.bnp.org.uk