1 December 2008

Union man who is behind the door about BNP membership

BNP member Tim Clarke pictured at his home in Lisburn.

Civil servant faces calls to quit Nipsa after list leaked

This is the outspoken BNP member who faces the boot from his frontline trade union role because of his hardline views. Right-wing activist Tim Clarke isn’t usually ‘behind-the-door’ about his opinions — but he’d kept his British National Party membership a secret from his colleagues in the Nipsa trade union.

But the Social Security Agency civil servant was outed along with thousands of supporters of the right-wing organisation when a disgruntled former member published their details on the internet.

Now Clarke’s union colleagues want him booted out of their trade union . . . and out of his civil service job.

They’re understood to have complained to the union’s hierarchy about Clarke’s continuing role as a branch secretary in the public service union. Nipsa’s general secretary John Corey yesterday confirmed that inquiries had been received from local union branches about the BNP membership issue. He said that the matter would be raised by the union’s general council.

Said Mr Corey: “Across the UK, trade unions have made clear they consider BNP membership to be incompatible with trade union membership. Trade unions stand for upholding the rights of every person, equality for all and against any forms of racism.”

Clarke has represented Nipsa members at the union’s annual conferences in his role as the secretary for Branch 34 of the union, which covers workers in the Social Security Agency in Lisburn. He describes himself as a Nipsa member of more than 25 years who has been a constant target for “abuse” from the union’s left.

Our exclusive snaps show him taking his seat at this year’s annual Nipsa conference in the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle and standing behind the union’s leaders — including Mr Corey.

When Sunday Life called at his Lisburn home yesterday, the BNP man denied even BEING Clarke.

“I don’t know who you’re talking about,” he said from behind the door.

He later called our office to complain about being “rudely awakened” by our reporter. “I didn’t want to say anything incriminating. The media are very biased against the BNP,” said Clarke. “I joined the party because I’m concerned about levels of immigration and the way I see things developing. But it’s a perfectly legally-constituted party so I don’t see anything wrong with joining it. It’s accused of being racist. I’m certainly not (racist) in any shape or form. I don’t consider the BNP to be an extreme party. They are the only patriotic party there is.”

In relation to suggestions that there could be a conflict of interests between his membership and the civil servants’ code of conduct, he said: “I deal with everyone fairly and impartially, regardless of their views.”

And he said he intends to challenge fight any attempt by Nipsa to expel him, saying that they had “no evidence” he was a member of the BNP...even though he CONFIRMED it to a Sunday Life journalist!

Said Clarke: “They don’t even know for a start that I am a member. They can’t accuse me of anything they don’t have any evidence of. If I thought the BNP was as racist as people make out they are, I would not be a member. If they had the same image they had years ago when it was a completely different party — they were knuckle-dragging skinheads — I would have nothing to do with it. I believe anyone should be entitled to be a member of a trade union because they pay their membership fees to protect their employment rights.”

But Clarke’s Nipsa colleagues don’t agree.

Said one union official: “Membership of the BNP is completely incompatible with the code of conduct of the civil service which requires full respect for equality and diversity. Membership of our union and all public service unions demands we adhere to that code. If you’re a member of a racist party such as the BNP, you clearly have no right to be a member of Nipsa and you shouldn’t be employed by the civil service.”

A spokesman for the Department of Social Development, which oversees the Social Security Agency, said: “The Social Security Agency does not comment on the individual circumstances of staff.

“The civil service is permitted to take the view that they judge an officer by what he or she does — not what group he or she belongs to.”

Nipsa’s members aren’t alone in wanting BNP members out of their trade union. Trade unions throughout the UK have backed a recent amendment to the Employment Bill currently before the House of Lords that would allow them to ban racists.

The proposal — that has been labelled ‘Stalinist’ by the BNP — comes amid concern that the BNP is using unions to strengthen its electoral footing. It follows a landmark case in the European Court of Human Rights, which upheld the right of the train drivers’ union Aslef to expel one of its members for also holding membership of the BNP. If the law comes into force — and it would apply equally to Northern Ireland — it would come into immediate conflict with Northern Ireland’s fair employment laws which prohibit discrimination on the grounds of political opinion.

Clarke is one of dozens of members of the BNP from Northern Ireland to be identified after a disgruntled former member leaked the names and addresses of more than 10,000 members.

Sunday Life revealed last week how the local supporters of the far-right organisation have included a lonely-heart ex-copper, a soldier who hates England and a former fire chief. Ex-RUC officer Sandy Baxter said he was proud to be a member of the party.

Following our revelation that the Co Londonderry man had won admirers among a string of Thai beauties on an online dating website, the ex-cop quickly removed his profile from the Friendster social networking website. He had previously been seen on the site in a number of photos posing with a sports car, in RUC uniform and even with a heavy-calibre mounted machine-gun.

Squaddie Gary Wilkinson, we were told, had no interest in the BNP literature that had been posted to his former Ballycarry home. He had used his Bebo website to complain about how much he disliked England, claiming that many English people were “ignorant”.

Young professional couple Andy and Lisa Giltrap told how they had attended a number of local BNP meetings but had since left the organisation. Husband Andy told Sunday Life: "I would stress we are not racist in any way."

He added that the BNP had been unfairly branded as a Nazi group by the media.

“I do care about being British and I do believe we are being overrun by immigrants,” said the Bangor man.

Former Dungannon fire chief Harry Martin, a one-time vice-president of the Retired Fire Fighters Association, appeared on the BNP membership list after making a donation to the party. The retired fireman, now a lollipop man, said he had “changed his mind” about joining the party a short time after paying into their coffers.

Belfast Telegraph

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