An American white supremacist was barred from entering Britain to attend the BNP’s annual summer festival over fears that his presence would stir up racial tension.
Preston Wiginton, 44, was turned away from the UK border after arriving at Heathrow from New York for last weekend’s Red, White and Blue festival.
He has close links to BNP leader Nick Griffin and helped to organise a university speaking tour for him in the US.
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: “The government opposes extremism in all its forms and we will prevent those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.”
The Community Security Trust’s Mark Gardner said: “Nick Griffin wanted to bring this extremist to the BNP’s largest annual event. That says everything you need to know about Griffin and his party.”
BNP spokesman Simon Darby said Mr Wiginton had not been invited to speak at the festival.
“He came last year and we do get one or two people who just turn up. The papers try to paint people as black as they can. I would not describe him as antisemitic. I have never asked him [if he is antisemitic] and he has never said anything like that to me. There are a lot of people in America who blame Jewish people for everything — but there’s no logic to it.”
He said the festival had gone “well enough” despite protests from around 1,500 anti-fascists who travelled to the village of Codnor, Derbyshire, where the event was held. They met in the village square and chanted “Nazi scum, off our streets” before throwing eggs, flour and fruit at police officers.
Police arrested 19 demonstrators — 17 fewer than last year — and later charged four people with public order offences.
More than 1,500 police from six forces took part in the £500,000 operation, which involved the use of an unmanned spy drone to monitor crowds.
BNP supporters at the festival were invited to throw sponges at people dressed as Barack Obama and Osama Bin Laden. Mr Griffin described the activities as “a little bit of light-hearted fun, in the British tradition”.
Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism, which co-ordinated the anti-BNP protests, said: “This was a great day for anti-fascists. Protesters caused real disruption by making it difficult if not impossible for the BNP’s supporters and speakers to get into the event.
“We saw what can happen when black and white, young and old, Muslim and Jew, gay and straight, come together to fight the fascist BNP.”