The BNP could face a legal injunction over a potential breach of race discrimination law relating to its membership policies, it was announced today.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission said it had demanded that the party took action to address its constitution and membership criteria, employment practices and provision of services to the public and constituents.
The BNP was asked to provide written undertakings by 20 July that it will make the required changes or it could face a legal injunction.
The Commission said it believed the BNP's constitution and membership criteria may discriminate on the grounds of race and colour, contrary to the Race Relations Act.
The party's membership criteria appeared to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regarded as particular "ethnic groups" and those whose skin colour was white, according to the Commission.
"This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act which the party is legally obliged to comply with. The Commission therefore thinks that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally.
"The Commission has required the BNP to provide a written undertaking that it will not discriminate contrary to the Race Relations Act in its employment and recruitment policies, procedures and practices," the EHRC said in a statement.
"The BNP's website states that the party is looking to recruit people and states that any applicants should supply a membership number. The Commission thinks that this requirement is contrary to the Race Relations Act, which outlaws the refusal or deliberate omission to offer employment on the basis of non-membership of an organisation. The Commission is therefore concerned that the BNP may have acted, and be acting, illegally."
The Commission said it was also concerned that the BNP's elected representatives may not intend to offer or provide services on an equal basis to all their constituents and members of the public irrespective of race or colour, in contravention of the Race Relations Act and the Local Authority Model Code of Conduct.
John Wadham, the Commission's legal director, said: "The Commission's statutory role includes a duty to investigate possible breaches of discrimination law and take action where appropriate.
"The legal advice we have received indicates that the British National Party's constitution and membership criteria, employment practices and provision of services to constituents and the public may breach discrimination laws which all political parties are legally obliged to uphold.
"We await a response from the BNP to our letter before deciding what further action we may take. Litigation or enforcement action can be avoided by the BNP giving a satisfactory response to our letter."Reuse content