BNP in trouble for filing 'inadequate' accounts

The British National Party (BNP) could face prosecution for breaking electoral law over its annual accounts after it filed financial records which its accountants refused to sanction and the far-right group's own leader admitted were "inadequate".

The party has been fined £1,000 by the Electoral Commission after it filed its accounts for 2008 nearly six months after the original deadline and warned that it must provide further information after the BNP's independent auditor declared the records did not "give a true and fair view" of the state of its finances.

The accounts, which are prefaced by a statement from the party leader Nick Griffin insisting that 2008 was "the most successful" in its history, show that the BNP made a loss of more than £80,000 that year despite a substantial leap in its income from donations to more than £660,000. Its expenditure ballooned from £662,000 to £1.1m.

The book-keeping wrangle with the elections watchdog raises fresh questions about the financial controls of the party after Mr Griffin appealed for extra donations and warned earlier this year that it was "suffering acute financial pressure" following a fall in its income and a £600,000 bill for its campaign in the June European elections. Electoral law requires all political parties with an income or expenditure in excess of £250,000 to provide fully audited annual accounts with a sliding scale of fines for late submission and separate criminal sanctions against the party for the financial period in question if satisfactory records are not provided.

In his preface to the accounts, Mr Griffin blamed upheaval in the headquarters operations of the BNP and said there had been a subsequent "outsourcing" of its record-keeping to a chartered accountant "with the aim of presenting acceptable accounts for 2009". It has now been fined five times in the past two years for breaking rules on filing financial records. Admitting that the party was once more in breach of the rules, Mr Griffin said: "We recognise that it is not acceptable to present inadequate accounts."

The BNP's auditor, whose name is blanked out on records published on the Electoral Commission website but who works for a Staffordshire firm of chartered accountants called Silver & Co, said the party had not submitted sufficient records to a provide a "true and fair" view of the party's 2008 results. In a statement, the auditor said: "In our opinion it cannot be said the accounts comply with the requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 [PPERA] as adequate records have not been made available."

The Electoral Commission said it was considering the options available to it, including an eventual prosecution. A spokesman said: "We have reviewed the statement of accounts and have concerns about them. We have written back to the party requesting additional information. Until we have received that information we cannot say what further action will be taken."

Under the PPERA, failure to provide audited accounts is a criminal offence. A party's treasurer for the period covered by the financial records can be fined up to £5,000 unless they can prove that all reasonable steps were taken to secure accurate accounts.

Campaigners say there has been an increased professionalisation of the BNP's administration following its electoral gains, including the election of Mr Griffin and a colleague in the European elections this summer, although it still relies on small-scale donations from members and commercial activities to fund most of its activities. It received only two donations above £5,000 between July and September this year, one of them for £5,105 from Eileen Sheridan-Price, a one-time winner of Miss UK and a former acquaintance of the Kray Twins.

A spokesman for the BNP said: "We do not have the resources of other political parties to get through the enormous amount of red tape that surrounds these tasks. We have now appointed a chartered accountant and we are hoping to have this year's accounts signed off by February. We don't expect to have a repetition of previous problems."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower