Police suspend officer who joined BNP

Membership list also exposes involvement of motocross champion

A serving police officer was suspended from duty last night after being exposed as a member of the British National Party.

PC Steve Bettley of Merseyside Police was out of the country on holiday when the list of 12,000 BNP members and sympathisers was leaked on an internet blog. He has returned home early as the force began investigating his involvement with the far-right party. A spokesman said: "Merseyside Police can confirm that the police officer subject to an ongoing internal investigation into his alleged association with the BNP has today been suspended from duty.

"He returned from his holiday early to co-operate with the investigation. We would like to reiterate we will keep an open mind until the facts have been established."

Police officers are prohibited from joining the BNP. Mr Bettley appears to be the only serving policeman on the list, but the names and addresses of 17 former officers – including a chief inspector – were also published, alongside teachers, nurses and members of the armed forces.

It also emerged that one of the country's top young motor racing stars, Billy Mackenzie, was a BNP member. The 24-year-old is the UK's reigning MX1 motocross champion, and was described on the list as an "activist" and a "high-profile sportsman".

Mr Mackenzie rides for Honda and has represented Great Britain. He is regarded as among the world's leading talents in the sport. Honda stood by the rider, insisting he was not an "active member" of the BNP and would do nothing to embarrass the company. A spokeswoman said: "He decided to pay the annual subscription after the war on terror, which was something he felt strongly about." Mr Mackenzie, from East Lothian, could not be contacted last night.

A BNP activist who has just won an award for his campaigning efforts, appears to have been flagged up on the leaked list. Clive Jefferson's details were accompanied by the words: "Convictions – monitor." Mr Jefferson, from Cockermouth, Cumbria, who last week was named BNP activist of the year, said "malicious" alterations had been made to the list before it was leaked. Mr Jefferson, the BNP press officer for Cumbria, is regarded as influential in the party and is a close ally of its leader, Nick Griffin.

The Green Party faced embarrassment after confirming that two of its activists had switched allegiance to the BNP. Keith Bessant stood for the Greens in the 2001 and 2005 general elections in Cheltenham. The Rev John Stanton, from Rochford, Essex, was also a former Green Party chairman. Mr Stanton said: "I was with the BNP for eight months. But we started to get repercussions so I left."

The BNP list: What's your excuse?

Retired teacher: "I was only a member briefly and went to two meetings. It was a couple of years ago and I joined everything at that time."

Model: "I didn't know the petition [against the building of a mosque] was organised by them and have had nothing to do with them since. I don't know anything about politics."

Musician and university tutor: "I did join and take out a year's subscription in 2005 and this was as a result of having extremely difficult problems where I live locally with youths."

Church minister: "Islam in general motivated me to join the BNP, particularly the thought of allowing Sharia law into our country."

Disc jockey: "I did it for research purposes... I had no interest in infiltrating the BNP – I simply wanted to get on the mailing list."

Former soldier: "A lot of the boys joined because they were campaigning against the IRA and for getting the troops out of Ireland."

Retired teacher: "I went to a meeting to find out more. At the end anyone who wanted to find out more could leave their details, so I did. I started getting mail that was quite extreme, so I decided it wasn't for me."

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