BNP claims victory over constitution

Victorious? Nick Griffin

Victorious? Nick Griffin

Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, has claimed a "David and Goliath victory" after the High Court threw out claims that he did not comply with a court order to remove "discriminatory" clauses in the party's constitution.

The decision appears to be the end of an 18-month battle between the BNP and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. In June 2009 the commission contacted the BNP claiming that its constitution, which restricted membership to a particular "ethnic group" and those whose skin colour was white, was against the1976 Race Relations Act.

At a county court hearing in October 2009, the BNP agreed to revise its constitution not to discriminate on the grounds of race, ethnic or religious status. But in February, it voted on a new constitution which indicated members must be against mixed-race relationships, and also supported the relocation of ethnic minorities. This was ruled discriminatory by the court in March.

In April, a new constitution was published on the BNP's website which included the offending clauses as conditions of members attending meetings or having the right to vote.

The EHRC applied to the court for enforcement of the original order and in June, the case was transferred to the High Court.

Mr Griffin then made an application to strike out the order after suspending the offending clauses from the constitution.

On Friday, the High Court ruled that the order applied to membership rather than the rights of party members.

Mr Griffin said: "This is the fourth time the politically correct state has tried to jail me and it's the fourth time it's blown up in their bigoted anti-British faces.

"The High Court has confirmed the BNP has acted within the law."

John Wadham, legal group director at the EHRC, said: "This judgment makes no difference to the substance of our action against the BNP.

"When we began proceedings against the BNP in June last year the party's constitution was plainly illegal. We asked that they amend it at the time.

"Eighteen months and seven court hearings later, Mr Griffin has finally amended the constitution to bring it in line with what the commission had originally requested.

"We will continue to monitor any changes to the BNP's constitution to ensure membership is made genuinely accessible. If we consider that it is not, we will decide what regulatory action may again be necessary."

    Last updated: 1:44pm, December 22 2010