Straw urged to stop secret skinhead gig in Wales

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The Independent Online
The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, is being urged to ban a neo-Nazi music festival in South Wales amid mounting fears that it could be the scene of violent clashes between skinheads and anti-Nazi campaigners.

The anti-fascist organisation, Searchlight, believes that up to 1,000 neo-Nazis from as far afield as Sweden, the USA and Canada are planning to descend on Wales next weekend for an "Aryan Music Fest" featuring skinhead bands who chant racist and anti-Semitic lyrics.

But so far police have not been able to discover the location of the festival and the Anti-Nazi League says it may have no choice but to mobilise at strategic locations in South Wales in a bid to stop skinheads reaching the secret gig.

"Hopefully, there won't be any clashes because the Home Office will ban the festival. But if they can't establish the venue we will try to head the skinheads off," vowed an ANL spokeswoman on Friday.

According to flyers uncovered by Searchlight, the festival is due to go ahead next Saturday. Those attending have been told to meet in the afternoon at either the Leigh Delamere service station on the M4 in Wiltshire or the Severn View service station near the Severn Bridge.

Advertised bands include Intimidation One, a neo-Nazi skinhead outfit from Portland, Oregon, whose songs incite the murder of Jews and blacks, and the English band, English Rose, several members of whom have served jail sentences for attacking staff at an Indian restaurant.

In a letter to the Home Secretary last week, signed by Welsh Labour MEPs Wayne David and Glenys Kinnock, Searchlight warned that the last time a Nazi gig was held in South Wales in 1995 in Caerphilly there was a riot and several people were injured.

"We, the undersigned, are calling on the police and the authorities to ban this dangerous event ... Steps should be taken to ensure that the Nazis are not able to bring violence and fear back to South Wales," the letter urged.

South Wales police are urgently contacting farmers, owners of large indoor halls and music equipment suppliers in an attempt to identify the location of the gig and trace the organisers. The Home Office said that at the moment it was an operational matter for the Chief Constable of South Wales and that the Home Secretary had no powers to ban the event.

Wayne David, the South Wales MEP in whose constituency the festival is due to take place, fears that it could have been deliberately timed to coincide with an event in Cardiff marking the 50th anniversary of independence for India and Pakistan.

Thousands of Asians from all over England and Wales are expected to descend on the Cardiff International Arena for the independence day celebrations, providing the potential for inter-racial clashes.

Searchlight believes the organisers of the festival are a neo-Nazi splinter group called British Movement and a faction connected with the skinhead magazine, Blood and Honor.

According to Searchlight's information, farmland for the gig was booked by Billy Bartlett, the lead singer of Celtic Warrior, a Welsh skinhead band that performs regularly in mining villages in South Wales. It is also thought that Bartlett, who police have unsuccessfully tried to trace, may have booked a fall-back indoor venue.

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