Ian Dell, 34, of Woolwich, south London, is claiming unfair dismissal. Giving evidence, he said that what he did in his own time was his own business.
But Philip Engelman, for the council, said Mr Dell had not been sacked for his political views, however distasteful they might seem. He was sacked because the council could not repose trust and confidence in a member of a racially motivated party who, by terms of the contract of his employment, had to deal with those from a vulnerable minority. He said what Mr Dell did was tantamount to 'an incitement to racial hatred'.
Mr Dell's employers became aware he was a member of the BNP when he was captured on video taking part in a confrontation with Anti-Nazi League supporters in Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets, in September 1993. Mr Dell, the organiser of the south-east London BNP, was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing. At an appeal, the charge of gross misconduct was thrown out but one of breach of trust upheld.
The council felt Mr Dell's behaviour was unacceptable in a caretaker employed by the council whose duties include reporting incidents of racial harassment.
But Mr Dell claimed that his behaviour was quite lawful, and in his time with the council he 'never discriminated against anyone'. He said he could see no conflict in his activities and his duty to promote the council's equal opportunities policy. 'I was a member of a lawful organisation carrying out a lawful campaign putting a lawful message across. I was entitled under free speech and democracy to put that message across and I didn't feel Greenwich Council had the right to take the type of action they had . . . and try and treat me like a leper.'
But Mark Easton, director of housing for Greenwich, stood by his decision. While acknowledging the BNP was a legal party, he said it was 'wholly inappropriate' for Mr Dell to be reinstated.
The hearing continues today.Reuse content