Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Unions seek to bar worker with 'links to far right': Staff say woman's presence is an insult

HUNDREDS of social security workers have said they do not want to work with a colleague because of her alleged links with racist groups.

Members of the civil service CPSA and NUCPS unions at the Coventry Department of Social Security office took a joint vote last week after hearing of the 26- year-old woman's alleged involvement with the extreme right-wing groups the British National Party and the Aryan Resistance Movement.

Only four people at a 200- strong meeting did not back the vote calling on management to remove her. In a second vote, members were unanimous that she should be expelled from her union.

Unions say the woman admitted she was personally involved with the leader of the Aryan Resistance Movement, a US-based extreme anti-Semitic group, and that she had attended a British National Party meeting and a number of concerts organised by the right-wing skinheads Blood and Honour.

They also claim she admitted she was pictured in the BNP paper British Nationalist at a campaign meeting during last year's general election.

John Boadle, the joint union chair, said: 'It has certainly upset the workforce. People are outraged . . . They feel it is an insult to the black and Asian members in the office. There are people in this office who have lost relations in the war and they feel we fought this war against people like this.'

The woman, who is currently on sick leave, has worked at the DSS since leaving school and is currently in the income support benefit section. Unions say this means she technically has access to computer records of people across the country.

George Gallagher, temporary manager of Coventry DSS, said no action would be taken over the union vote and he could not comment on individual workers. 'The main concern is with what people do when they work for us, not what they think. It is their actions not their beliefs. We are concerned only in terms of discipline. Where would you draw the line?'

Unions, which have 300 members at the office, have vowed to continue the campaign until the woman is removed.

Allegations about the woman's involvement in right-wing politics have been made in the June issue of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight.

The membership secretary of the British National Party said the woman was not a member.