BNP leader held in race probe

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The leader of the British National Party was arrested today following a TV documentary exposing the extent of racism in the organisation, the party said today.

The leader of the British National Party was arrested today following a TV documentary exposing the extent of racism in the organisation, the party said today.

Nick Griffin, 45, was arrested today by West Yorkshire Police on suspicion of incitement to commit racial hatred as part of an investigation into the BBC programme Secret Agent.

Father-of-four Griffin has been chairman of the BNP since 1999.

A BNP spokesman said: "At 0700 four non-uniformed police officers awoke the Griffin household from their sleep at their family farmhouse in mid Wales.

"Mr Griffin was arrested and is currently in transit to a station in West Yorkshire."He is believed to have been arrested on suspicion of incitement to commit racial hatred."

The documentary, screened in July, featured covertly-filmed footage showing BNP activists confessing to race-hate crimes and party leader Griffin condemning Islam as a "vicious, wicked faith".

His arrest was the 12th in connection with the investigation into the BBCdocumentary.

The BNP's founding chairman John Tyndall, 70, of Brighton, was arrested on suspicion of the same offence on Sunday following a speech he made in Burnley, Lancashire, in March, the BNP spokesman said.

Parts of the speech were covertly filmed and shown in the BBC documentary.

Tyndall, a former chairman of the National Front, was released on police bail pending further inquiries yesterday.

Also yesterday, a 24-year-old man from Leicester was detained on suspicion of the same offence and bailed.

And in October, a 29-year-old Bradford man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence and bailed.

The previous month, two Keighley men, aged 38 and 47, were arrested separately on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage, and were later bailed.

Another six men - two 23-year-olds, a 51-year-old and a 45-year-old, all from Bradford, and two men, aged 35 and 40, from Keighley - were bailed in July.

They had been held variously in connection with suspected racially aggravated public order offences, conspiracy to commit criminal damage and possession of a firearm.

Speaking on July 15, when the BBC documentary was screened, Griffin accused theprogramme-makers of selectively editing the speech he is seen delivering, andchallenged the authorities to prosecute him.

He said: "If Mr Blunkett wants to put me on a show trial about whether we're entitled to warn about the dangers of Islam, I will be absolutely delighted."

Any jury would be shown the full speech, in which he makes clear that the BNP was not targeting individuals or communities, he added.

A BNP spokesman said he did not know exactly where Mr Griffin was, but hoped toissue a full statement later.

He said: "It's an attack on freedom of speech, isn't it?

"The BNP doesn't hate anyone, we don't hate anyone's race or religion.

"If we want to debate whether or not religious diversity is a good thing for this country, we should be allowed to do so without the police banging on the door."