Shadow Cabinet member talks to far-right group

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Indy Politics

Iain Duncan Smith's most vocal critic in the current Tory Shadow Cabinet is planning to embarrass him again by addressing a Tory fringe group dedicated to preserving the rule that bars the heir to the throne from marrying a Roman Catholic.

Eric Forth, shadow Leader of the House of Commons, will be guest speaker at a meeting on "Restoring Traditional Conservative and Unionist Values Around the Country" organised by a group called the London Swinton Circle.

The Swinton Circle describes itself as "Powellite" after Enoch Powell, the one-time Tory minister who defected from the Conservatives to the Ulster Unionists in the 1970s.

The group is run by a unionist, Allan Robertson, who also produces the newsletter Tough Talking From The Right which, in its May edition, argued that Britain should have "pursued an honest and vigorous security policy coupled with the judicial execution of all captured terrorists in Ulster" instead of secretly co-operating with loyalist paramilitaries.

The newsletter also called for the governors, director general and head of current affairs of the BBC to be tried for treason over its coverage of the Iraq war. A more recent summer edition added the Labour MP George Galloway to the list of those who should be charged with treason, stating that "if he wants to stand for Parliament again he should have to do it from a prison cell". Another item urged readers to help campaign against any change in the 1701 Act of Settlement which bars Roman Catholics from the throne and makes it a criminal offence to express republican opinions or advocate the abolition of the monarchy.

The newsletter also suggested that the way the death penalty operates in the US is "biased against white murderers and not blacks".

Oliver Letwin, the Tory home affairs spokesman, was due to address the Swinton Circle on asylum and immigration in January 2002, but pulled out after being alerted to the nature of the group.