13 February 2008

Call for full investigation into BNP finances

Investigations into the British National Party’s finances by the BBC and Searchlight have revealed the sheer incompetence of the Electoral Commission. The Commission, which oversees political party finances, has repeatedly failed to investigate properly a series of allegations of BNP wrongdoing.

In 2005 the BNP’s former treasurer, John Brayshaw, wrote to the Commission pointing out that he had refused to sign off the BNP’s accounts because he had not been given access to all the records he needed to see and had resigned after a number of irregularities had come to light. Yet the Electoral Commission said it had no reason to believe a breach of the party funding law had taken place.

It is illegal for political parties to accept any donations of more than £200 from individuals who are not registered to vote in the UK. In June 2005 Searchlight wrote to the Electoral Commission drawing attention to a blatant attempt by Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP, to solicit large US donations to the BNP by channelling them through a BNP front group called Civil Liberty. Again the Electoral Commission did not consider that any breach had occurred.

Searchlight wrote again to the Electoral Commission in May 2006 about another attempt to channel overseas donations of more than £200 through Civil Liberty. Although the Electoral Commission told us that our complaint would be investigated, we heard nothing more.

Searchlight demands that the Electoral Commission mounts a proper investigation into the BNP taking account of the evidence uncovered by Searchlight and the BBC Radio 4’s File on 4 programme broadcast on 12 February, as well as the matters raised by Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham, in an adjournment debate in the House of Commons on 18 December 2007, which he subsequently reported to the Electoral Commission and the Metropolitan Police. They include:
John Brayshaw’s statement about irregularities while he was BNP treasurer and the shredding of BNP financial documents.

The BNP’s attempts on more than one occasion to solicit overseas donations via Civil Liberty.

The fact that the only two officers of Civil Liberty were both BNP officers, Civil Liberty’s PO Box address is the same as that of the BNP’s North East region and there is no evidence that Civil Liberty has given legal support to anyone who is not a member of the BNP.

The statement to File on 4 by Adrian Davies, a barrister who has often represented the BNP, that he saw people queuing up to give cash to Griffin at a rightwing conference in the USA.

The unusual pattern of large donations that the BNP has reported to the Electoral Commission.

The verdict of Chris Makin, a forensic accountant engaged by File on 4, on the BNP’s accounts.

The fact that the BNP never submitted any accounts to the Electoral Commission for the last three months of 2001.
If the Electoral Commission fails once again to investigate the BNP fully, it rests with Parliament to initiate a thorough review of how the Electoral Commission exercises its role.

Stop The BNP

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