Party faces fine for filing accounts late

The BNP is facing a fine of up to £5,000 by electoral watchdogs for failing to file its accounts on time, amid claims the far-right party is in financial crisis.

Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, has issued a plea to members for extra donations after admitting the organisation was "suffering acute financial pressure" and was "fighting for [its] very existence" following a dip in its income and a £600,000 bill for its campaign in the June European elections.

Fresh questions have been raised about the BNP's financial controls, after the Electoral Commission confirmed that the party's accounts for 2008 are now nearly four months overdue. A spokesman for the commission said the BNP, which has been fined by the watchdog four times in the past two years for breaking rules on filing financial records, faces a penalty of between £600 and £5,000.

Party officials last night denied that the BNP was facing imminent financial collapse, pointing out that its cash-flow problems over the summer, which included a delay in the payment of salaries to its two new MEPs, had now alleviated. Simon Darby, the BNP's deputy leader, said: "Things are now a lot better than they were. Unlike other parties, we are in the black because no one will give us an overdraft."

Mr Darby declined to comment on the size of any deficit in the BNP's finances, and insisted that the delayed 2008 accounts would be filed with the Electoral Commission "imminently".

The BNP has relied on small-scale contributions from its members and commercial activities to fund its campaigns. It has not declared a donation above £5,000 to the Electoral Commission since March this year, when its largest donor, Adam Champneys, a Kent fruit farmer, gave a total of £15,060.

Accounts for 2008 filed by the BNP's regional organisations last month showed it had suffered a 27 per cent drop in its income to £211,000.