Alleged front group for BNP wins union status

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An alleged front organisation for the British National Party (BNP) has been awarded official status as a trade union by a senior government official.

In a dramatic switch of tactics, the BNP seems to have abandoned its policies of infiltrating orthodox unions and set up its own employees' association known as "Solidarity" after the anti-Communist union in Poland in the 1980s.

In a submission to Whitehall's certification officer, the BNP is not mentioned, but leading activists in the far-right party are involved in the organisation.

The anti-fascistSearchlight magazine reports that the union's "president" is Clive Potter, a prominent BNP supporter from Leicester who was expelled from the public service union Unison for alleged "improper conduct".

The magazine says other figures involved in the union include Jay Lee, who was ejected from the train drivers' union Aslef for his far-right beliefs and John Walker, the BNP's national treasurer. It is alleged that Solidarity has plans to set up a political fund as a means to fund the BNP.

The new association - "Solidarity, the Union for British Workers" - argues that it will be a normal trade union defending the interests of any British worker.

Documents received by the certification officer say that Solidarity "aims to improve the relations between employers and employees throughout all industries served by the union".

The submission also says that the new union will strive "to protect, assist and promote the working and living conditions of the citizens of the British Isles".

The union will also seek to "aid and join with any organisation, federation, political representative or body... having for their objective the promotion of the interests of workers or the furtherance of the political objectives enshrined within the political fund". The BNP has recently targeted working-class voters.

A spokesman for the BNP accepted that prominent party members were involved in the union, but insisted that it was not a "front" organisation.