Passer-by 'racially abused' BNP leader Nick Griffin

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British National Party leader Nick Griffin was racially abused by a man who made threatening "gun gestures" towards him, a court heard today.

The North West MEP was giving evidence in the trial of 23-year-old Tauriq Khalid, from Burnley, who is accused of shouting "white bastards" towards Griffin and other BNP members who were demonstrating in the Lancashire town.

As the far right leader gave media interviews outside Burnley police station last November, Khalid drove past and made the comment, returning shortly afterwards to make the gun gesture, Preston Crown Court was told.

The defendant denies one charge of using racially abusive threatening behaviour against Griffin.

He admits he stopped his silver Vauxhall Astra at the scene but says he shouted "Nick Griffin, you f****** w*****" and the hand gesture was a V-sign.

Ian Metcalfe, prosecuting, told the jury of seven men and five women that the incident took place as several BNP members, including Griffin, staged a peaceful demonstration outside Burnley police station against the arrest earlier that day of four party colleagues.

Mr Metcalfe said: "In the course of that demonstration Mr Griffin received some signals of support from members of the public and also signals of reproach from others.

"The prosecution say the defendant went further and indeed broke the law.

"He drove past the demonstration on repeated occasions and while doing so took the opportunity, from inside his car with the window down, to shout to Mr Griffin that he and other demonstrators were white bastards."

Mr Metcalfe added that Khalid then went further "by words or hand gestures to threaten to Mr Griffin that he was going to shoot him or have him shot".

Khalid then drove off and, Mr Metcalfe said, Griffin then left the demonstration following the advice of BNP security guards.

The party leader sat in an unmarked car for 30 minutes. After learning that one of the protesters had noted down the registration number of Khalid's car, a complaint was made to police and the defendant was later arrested by appointment.

Giving evidence, Mr Griffin said he was abused on two occasions that afternoon, firstly by the driver of a private hire cab and then by the driver of the silver Astra.

He said of the Astra driver: "He stopped the car and shouted out of the window, I thought, 'white bastard'.

"I saw him again when he came back - he was a young Asian man wearing a white top."

Demonstrating the alleged gun gesture to the jury, Mr Griffin said: "The second time I saw him, he leaned out of the car and pointed at me and made a gun and gang gesture.

"I took it to be in the manner of a handgun."

Mr Griffin then said he heard the defendant shout "I'm going to..." but did not hear the rest of the sentence.

Mr Griffin said: "I took it as 'kill you' or 'shoot you'.

"I discussed it with my security men and decided it would be best to make myself scarce."

Under cross-examination by Mark Stuart, defending, Mr Griffin denied he had misheard what Khalid said.

Mr Griffin said: "I don't think 'Nick Griffin, you w*****' can be possibly be misheard as 'white bastards'.

Mr Stuart said: "The defendant accepts it is him and he is not proud of his behaviour but he says he drove past and flashed a V sign at you."

Mr Griffin said: "I am quite used to people making gestures at me, it doesn't bother me. But there is a difference between that and making a gun gesture, it is a direct threat."