Nick Griffin was tonight replaced as leader of the far-right British National Party after succession of disastrous election results.
The party, which was wiped out in the European Parliament in May – with Mr Griffin losing his seat as an MEP – announced it had appointed Adam Walker, a former teacher banned from the profession for life, as its new leader.
Mr Walker, who had recently been appointed the BNP’s deputy chairman, was struck off the teachers’ register for life in 2013 after he admitted verbally abusing three pupils and slashing their bike tyres with a knife. In a speech last year, he described Britain as a “multicultural sh**hole”.
Mr Griffin presided over a rise in the BNP’s fortunes when the party took six per cent of the vote in the 2009 European elections and secured a number of local and county council seats.
But amid the rise of UKIP on the anti-European right, the BNP has gone into sharp decline and been riven by factionalism and infighting over its finances.
It secured just over one per cent of the vote in May’s European poll and lost the majority of its council seats. Mr Griffin lost his Strasbourg seat for the North West of England.
Mr Griffin was declared bankrupt in January this year following a legal dispute over outstanding debts owed to a firm of solicitors. He tweeted at the time: “I am now turning the experience to the benefit of hard-up constituents by producing a booklet on dealing with debt.”
The change of leadership was announced in a terse statement on the BNP website, which added that Mr Griffin would take on a new role as party president.
The statement said: “Recently appointed deputy chairman, Adam Walker, has accepted the role of acting chairman of the British National Party after Nick Griffin stepped aside at a meeting of the BNP national executive… The full national executive are united in their support for Adam in this role.”
Mr Walker, from Spennymoor, County Durham, was given a six-month prison sentence and a 12-month driving ban after he admitted dangerous driving in connection with his confrontation with three boys aged between ten and 12.
He has publicly stated that he acted “in a moment of madness” but earlier this year formally challenged his life ban in a legal case brought against then Education Secretary Michael Gove. The father-of-two claimed the prohibition was “totally disproportionate” and had been sought personally by Mr Gove because of his political leanings.
The case was dismissed by judge who found the new BNP leader’s argument was “lacking any credible evidential base at all”. Mr Walker said he had been left with a legal bill of at least £12,000 because of the case.
In a speech to a party audience last November, Mr Walker claimed that white Britons were facing a process of “ethnic cleansing” and suggested further killings like that of off-duty soldier Lee Rigby were likely. He accused the leaders of the three main political parties of turning Britain into a “multicultural shithole”.