10 August 2009

Police ready for clashes at British National Party festival

Police are to conduct a huge security operation in a Derbyshire village this week amid fears of clashes at an annual British National Party gathering.

Eighty coachloads of anti-Fascists are to protest over the Red, White and Blue festival in Denby, which is likely to attract thousands of supporters next weekend. Up to a thousand police officers will be stationed in the village. There was violence last year and greater disruption is expected this time. It is the BNP’s first mass gathering since it won two European seats in June.

Lee Barron, a trade union organiser of the protest, said that a peaceful march was planned and that violent protesters should stay away.

The BNP advertises its festival as a family event involving historical re-enactments, Morris dancing and a dog show. However, previously there have been complaints by local people about skinheads with vicious dogs descending on their village and playing tapes of Third Reich martial tunes.

Police officers have been granted special powers across the four-day event, which begins on Friday, to prevent more than 20 people gathering in certain areas of the village, among other restrictions.

Residents asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution for speaking out against the BNP, but told The Times that the party was not welcome. One said: “It is a place of warmth and tolerance and we don’t want to be associated with these people.”

Simon Darby, the deputy leader of the BNP, denied that the location of the festival was inappropriate and said that the presence of two BNP representatives on the local council showed that the party had support. “We’d have the same problems wherever we had it. Its the Left that are causing all the problems,” Mr Darby said.

Weyman Bennett, of the Unite Against Fascism group, said that the BNP rally would be a “magnet for Fascists and neo-Nazis from across Europe”. Mr Bennett said: “We want to make sure that there is opposition.”

The festival, in its tenth year, was moved from Lancashire to Denby three years ago. It will be held on a 34-acre property owned by Alan Warner, a local BNP member.

Times Online

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