20 May 2009

Queen hosts BNP chiefs at the Palace

Two leading members of the far-Right British National Party are to attend the Queen's garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Richard Barnbrook, a member of the London Assembly, received the invitation in his capacity at City Hall and has decided to take the chairman of the BNP, Nick Griffin, as his guest.

The move will provoke anger at City Hall among those who believe the party should not be part of the democratic system.

Today Mr Barnbrook confirmed he would attend the function on 21 July and said the addition of Mr Griffin as his guest had been a last-minute development.

He said: “If they don't like it then tough. I was duly elected and we live in a democracy.

“I was going to invite a very close friend but at the last minute she couldn't come so the party chairman was the first person I thought of off the cuff.

“If I continue to rattle the cages at City Hall and put noses out of joint while they can't answer my questions then they should look at their own politics.”

Mr Barnbrook was not directly invited by the Queen but was entitled to one of the tickets given to City Hall as a new Assembly member.

A Palace spokesman said: “A number of organisations and bodies receive an allocation of tickets for the garden parties and we trust them to make a decision about which guests they would like to invite. It's a system that has been in place for years. People are vetted for security reasons and we can intervene on obvious security grounds.

“We can't confirm who's attending because of data protection reasons.” Darren Johnson, chairman of the London Assembly and Green party member, said: “It's their garden party and they can invite who they want. He is a member of the Assembly after all and it is essentially a political problem.

“The long-term solution is to make sure neither he or anyone from his party ever gets in again. Mind you, if his behaviour is anything like it is at City Hall, the Queen will be very bored.”

The event will come after the June local and Euro elections, which could see the BNP gaining more local council seats and their first MEPs. Disillusionment with mainstream politicians over the MPs' expenses scandal and fears over jobs and immigration could lead to a surge in support for the party, according to political experts.

Two days ago Mr Barnbrook attended the Wembley launch of England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup finals

This is London

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