BNP leader 'to attend palace garden party'

The leader of the far-right British National Party is to be a guest at a Buckingham Palace garden party hosted by the Queen, his colleague said today.

Nick Griffin will accompany Richard Barnbrook, a BNP member of the London Assembly, as his guest at the event on July 21, Mr Barnbrook said.

All members of the Assembly have been invited to the event.

Mr Barnbrook said: "I imagine there will be a to-do and a hoot.

"These things are going to happen more and more as the party goes forward."

A BNP spokesman added: "Richard Barnbrook has got an official invite in his capacity as a member of the London Assembly and he is allowed to bring a guest, which will be Nick Griffin.

"For him to snub an invite from the Queen would be absurd.

"It is something people are going to have to get used to because if we get elected MEPs, this is the kind of thing we are going to be doing on a regular basis.

"It is the emergence of a party from beyond the pale to mainstream."

The event will come after the June local and Euro elections, which could see the BNP gaining more local council seats and their first MEPs.

Disillusionment with mainstream politicians over the MPs' expenses scandal and fears over jobs and immigration could lead to a surge in support for the party, according to political experts.

The BNP campaigns for the "voluntary resettlement" of immigrants back to their countries of origin, claims white Britons have become "second class citizens" and wants to bring back corporal and capital punishment for criminals.

News of the royal garden party invite comes two days after Mr Barnbrook attended the Wembley launch of England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup finals.

All elected members of the London Assembly were invited to the launch.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the FA Chairman Lord Triesman spoke at the event, putting an emphasis on diversity.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said he could not confirm individual invitations.

He said: "A number of organisations and bodies receive an allocation of tickets for the garden parties so it is a matter for those organisations who they invite."