BNP's Nick Griffin defeats contempt legal bid

BNP leader Nick Griffin fought off a bid to have him declared guilty of contempt of court today.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission accused him of failing to comply with a Central London County Court judgment ordering the removal of potentially racist clauses from his party's constitution.

Robin Allen QC, appearing for the watchdog, said the BNP was "playing with" the Commission and its officials instead of obeying the judgment.

But today Lord Justice Moore-Bick and Mr Justice Ramsey, sitting at the High Court in London, refused to to take action against Mr Griffin, BNP deputy Simon Darby and party officer Tanya Lumby.

The Commission was seeking fines against them for contempt, or possibly the sequestration of party assets.



The application stemmed from the county court's ruling that the BNP constitution breached discrimination laws because of a clause banning non-white members.

The constitution underwent revision, but last March Judge Paul Collins ruled at the county court that the new version was indirectly discriminatory against those of mixed-race, because it required party applicants to oppose "any form of integration or assimilation of ... the indigenous British".

Another section required new members to submit to a two-hour vetting visit at their home by BNP officials, which Judge Collins ruled could be seen as "intimidatory".

The county judge ordered both sections to be removed from the constitution.

The Commission took the BNP to the High Court accusing it of being in contempt by failing to comply with that order.

Today, as BNP supporters demonstrated outside the Royal Courts of Justice, Lord Justice Moore-Bick said he had reached "the clear conclusion" that the Commission's legal action could not succeed.



Later, the Commission's legal group director, John Wadham, said today's ruling "makes no difference to the substance of our action against the BNP", which had finally obeyed the county court judgment.

He said: "Mr Griffin failed to properly implement that judgment until we took these proceedings in the High Court.

"When the Commission began proceedings against the BNP in June last year the party's constitution was plainly illegal. We asked that they amend it at the time.

"Had they done so we could have avoided court proceedings.

"Eighteen months and seven court hearings later Mr Griffin has finally amended the constitution to bring it in line with what the Commission had originally requested."

Mr Wadham said the Commission would continue to monitor any changes to the BNP's constitution "to ensure membership is made genuinely accessible".

"If we consider that it is not we will decide what regulatory action may again be necessary."









Mr Griffin described today's decision as "fantastic", saying the Commission had pursued a politically-motivated campaign designed to bankrupt the party.



In his ruling, Lord Justice Moore-Bick said it was plain that the BNP constitution had been restructured in response to the county court order.



The restructuring involved removing conditions formerly attached to admission and reinstating them under "conditions of membership" as barriers to "active participation" in the party's affairs.



The judge said the phrase "conditions of membership" could reasonably be construed as having two possible meanings, and for that reason alone it would be wrong to find Mr Griffin guilty of contempt of the county court order.



In any event, the Commission had indicated that it would not press its application for sanctions against the BNP leadership in relation to breaches that had now been rectified.



The judge said the High Court had been concerned only with the scope of the order made by Judge Collins.



He warned: "It has not been concerned with the more general question whether any aspects of the BNP's current constitution infringe the prohibition on discrimination on the grounds of race now contained in the Equality Act 2010, which may have to be considered on another occasion."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen