BNP supporters 'beat man who clashed with Griffin'

Supporters of the British National Party were accused last night of operating like "a private army" after they set upon a man who poured a drink on the group's leader.

David Drew MP told the House of Commons last night that a "totally upstanding" constituent was given "one hell of a hiding" by BNP supporters.

He said the attack took place as Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP who was last month elected as a Member of the European Parliament, was visiting Painswick, Gloucestershire. "I don't know why he was wined and dined in my constituency in Painswick but he was," Mr Drew said. "It just so happens that one of my constituents took offence at this and happened to spill some beer over Mr Griffin. As a result of this he was given one hell of a hiding."

The MP for Stroud added: "I am not prepared to accept that any politician has a private army. I am not prepared to have the BNP anywhere near my constituency. But I hope that we will look at the actions of the BNP."

He told the Commons that he knew the victim, whom he said he was proud to be associated with, but that an arrest and charges were unlikely to be made because the constituent was too shocked to pursue it. "That's just indicative of what the BNP is like," the MP said.

The Deputy Commons Leader Barbara Keeley said the allegation of the attack was a "serious thing".

The attack is alleged to have taken place on 11 July at the Falcon pub in Painswick after the constituent, a teenager, waited outside and threw a pint of Guinness over the BNP leader.

A spokesman for the BNP dismissed the claims made in Parliament as, "just another MP trying to make a bit of political capital out of this".

He said that the constituent, for whom he had "no sympathy", had verbally abused Mr Griffin before throwing a drink.

"People have got to realise that they cannot go around trying to attack senior politicians in this way," he said.

"After he threw the beer, our security treated him robustly. That could've been acid for all we knew. How did he expect us to react?"

In an interview with a local newspaper the victim, named only as Ben, said he had wanted to confront Mr Griffin to give him, "a taste of people's feelings towards him". He told how he had felt intimidated by a group of BNP supporters before being put in a headlock by "one of his security people".

Gloucestershire police said in a statement: "The group restrained him and it was during this time that the man states he was assaulted and bruising caused to his face. He did not wish to make a formal complaint."

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