Huge protests set for BNP festival

BNP leader Nick Griffin: presiding over a “family” event

BNP leader Nick Griffin: presiding over a “family” event

Thousands of anti-fascists from all over the country will be hoping to disrupt the BNP’s annual festival in a Derbyshire village this weekend.

Unite Against Fascism has 43 coaches ready to carry supporters to Codnor, where they will confront the BNP on Saturday during its Red, White and Blue festival.

Anindya Bhattacharyya, UAF press officer, said: “We want to get as many people as possible to protest. We want to put pressure on the BNP to make it clear to anyone going to the festival that the vast majority of people in this country find their views repulsive.”

However, the festival is taking place on a private farm owned by BNP supporter Alan Warner, so contact with the festival-goers is likely to be very limited, particularly as Derbyshire police have imposed heavy restrictions on the demonstrators. They have been restricted to an area in Codnor village well away from the farm. Police have warned the organisers that they will be arrested if they break public order and trespass laws.

“We believe that the BNP will be celebrating their victories in the European elections and have invited some of their right-wing counterparts from France, Belgium, Germany and Hungary. We want to let them know they are not welcome,” Mr Bhattacharyya said.

BNP press spokesman Simon Derby said it was “possible” that members of European groups would attend the festival.

“We have held the festival for 10 years and we have had demonstrators every year. Now the demonstrators are upping the ante and trying to cause as much trouble as they can. No doubt there will be some trouble but it will be down to them. We are holding a family festival,” he said.

We believe that the BNP will be celebrating their victories in the European elections and have invited some of their right-wing counterparts from France, Belgium, Germany and Hungary. We want to let them know they are not welcome

Anindya Bhattacharyya

Mr Derby then invited the JC to attend the festival. “We have nothing to hide,” he said.

Violence flared and 35 people were arrested last weekend when UAF protesters clashed with two groups, the English Defence League and Casuals United, at Birmingham’s Bull Ring shopping centre.

The EDF and Casuals were protesting against Muslim extremists. UAF organised a counter-demonstration and the two groups clashed. Dozens of police were needed to separate the two factions. The demonstration was the first of a number said to have been planned by the anti-Muslim groups.

Meanwhile, a BNP councillor in north east London has been criticised for driving a car with a number plate which appeared to spell the word “Nazi”.

Councillor Julian Leppert, 41, who represents Hainault ward and is a close aide of BNP leader Nick Griffin, has arrived at Redbridge council meetings in a black Ford Focus with the registration number NA51 ZCY.

Redbridge councillors are now demanding that he resigns from his ward. Calling for his resignation, council leader Keith Prince said Cllr. Leppert should “hang his head in shame”.

Conservative Cllr. Veronica Cole said: “When I first saw the number plate I couldn’t believe my eyes. It is sickening and appalling. It beggars belief that even a BNP councillor could think this kind of behaviour is acceptable.”

Cllr. Leppert said he has now decided to sell the car because of the controversy, but denied he had chosen the number plate deliberately.

“This isn’t a personalised number plate. I needed to buy a car in a hurry a couple of years ago and found one for sale online. The number plate was blacked out so it wasn’t until I arrived to pay that I saw it,” he said. “Had I known, I would probably never have bought it. I am planning to sell the car now as the other councillors seem to want to make a political point. I find that pretty cheap.”

    Last updated: 9:40am, August 14 2009