BNP gets last chance to scrap whites-only policy

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Indy Politics

The British National Party was warned today that it had one last chance to scrap its whites-only membership policy or face a possible court injunction.

BNP leader Nick Griffin was told at Central London County Court that a new party constitution complying with race relations laws must be agreed at an extraordinary general meeting due to be held in two weeks' time.

It meant that BNP officials were forced to rush out letters to members in the last post in order to allow for the 14 days needed to alert them to the proposed changes.

Even then there remained queries over whether the amended version would go far enough to appease lawyers from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Further changes are likely to be needed at the meeting - the location of which has not been disclosed - itself.

The Commission had opposed adjournment at the session and called on the judge to make a ruling over the matter.

But His Honour Judge Paul Collins said that doing so would likely mean that a further court ruling would be needed once the new constitution was in place.

But he echoed concerns that some passages in the proposed amended version were vague.

The commission maintained that it was still discriminatory, although in a less direct manner.

They said that by making potential members agree that they supported the "unity and integrity of the indigenous British" would in effect bar some people from joining.

Deciding for an adjournment, Judge Collins said: "I'm going to give the BNP an opportunity to have its EGM and take into account what has been said today and get it right.

"I do not think there will be another opportunity to get it right. This is it."

He also ordered the BNP to pay the £12,500 in court costs relating to today's adjourned session.

There were ugly scenes outside court when Mr Griffin emerged to give a statement to the press.

Anti-racism campaigners shouting "dirty racist" and "Nazi scum" and clashed with the BNP leader's bodyguards.

During one angry confrontation, a campaigner was left nursing a cut to his nose after his glasses were pushed back into his face as a result of the melee.

The chants of anti-Griffin protesters drowned out most of his statement.

But in it, he denied that having to further amend the constitution was a "humiliation" and said "coloured people" would be allowed to join his party if they agreed with the BNP's policies.

He added that attempts to make a political party change its policies were "an outrage and a disgrace".

But the party may have to scrap its assertion - kept in the amended version of its constitution - that members adhere to the idea of "the maintenance and existence of the unity and of the integrity of the indigenous British" if it is to be seen to be lawful.

John Wadham of the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the amended version displayed indirect discrimination as opposed to direct discrimination.

"Not that much of an improvement," he added.

The BNP's EGM will take place on February 14. But its location has been kept secret for fear of disruption.

Lawyers confirmed a court session had been arranged for March 9 at which the legality of the new BNP constitution would be decided upon.