A senior British National Party activist has been booted out of the far right political group.
Hartley Wintney resident Roger Robertson has been kicked out over his part in a bid to overthrow controversial leader Nick Griffin. Mr Robertson was campaign manager for Colin Auty, who planned a leadership bid. However, Mr Auty did not receive enough backing from party members to go ahead with the challenge. As a result Mr Robertson, who has stood as a BNP candidate at a number of recent Hart District Council elections, was hauled before a disciplinary tribunal.
He branded the hearing, held in Exeter on Sunday, a “sham”.
“It was a foregone conclusion,” Mr Robertson told the Fleet News. “I’d already received an email previous to the tribunal saying I was going to be expelled from the party. The interesting thing is that I don’t feel at all disappointed that I’ve been expelled. The fact is that myself and many other like-minded people are being let down by the leader and his sycophant coterie. He surrounds himself with yes men and people who simply obey his orders.
“It’s a shame but to be honest I feel more sorry for some of the good people who are being duped. At least I can see through them and have made my position clear. It’s just a shame that the others can’t see the wood for the trees.”
The tribunal was chaired by south-west England regional organiser Peter Mullins. National nominating officer Michaela MacKenzie and Torbay area organiser Peter Taylor made up the three-member tribunal. Andy McBride, who has taken over from Mr Robertson as the BNP’s south-east regional organiser, read the charges.
Mr Robertson said: “The biggest charge was that I was bringing the party into disrepute by talking to the press. I thought that was a bit hypocritical as we are supposed to live in a democracy. After the tribunal they said I was expelled from the party forthwith — it was absolutely laughable.”
Mr Robertson, who has lived in Hartley Wintney all his life, believes a lot of good would come from his expulsion. He added: “Quite clearly there’s a need for a party that’s whiter than white. We need a party whose members are above reproach. There’s probably about 20 or 30 of us across the country seriously looking at a new party of the right that is completely transparent and comprising people without baggage.”
In an official statement before his disciplinary tribunal, Mr Robertson told BNP members and supporters that it was with “regret” that he and Mr Auty had decided they would not challenge Nick Griffin’s leadership.
He added: “It is extremely disappointing that the challenge fell short by just a few signatures, a major factor being that many members have failed to renew their subscriptions, plus the fact that the churn rate of the membership precludes many who do not have the requisite two years’ qualification to become a voting member.
“Colin was the ideal candidate to lead our party out of the wilderness after nine years of stultifying slow growth under the present chairman. Both Colin and myself wish to thank most sincerely those nearly 90 people who had the courage to put their names to Colin’s nomination. We may well have lost the first skirmish but the battle for a democratic BNP is far from over.”
Mr Robertson said the names of those that did sign Mr Auty’s nomination would not be disclosed to Mr Griffin “or any of his stooges, as we do not want to see another internal bloodbath of dedicated nationalists”.
He added: “Colin has the nomination forms and they will be staying with him — he will not put them to the sword of the hierarchy. This is a sad day for internal democracy — how can we convince the public that we are committed to democratic elections when internally the current leadership seem allergic to them?”
In a statement, BNP legal director Lee Barnes attacked the leadership challenge as “bogus” and “illegal” and said disciplinary measures would be taken to squash the “diversionary and divisive” activity in the bud. The statement added: “This is a deceitful and cynical attempt to divert the party’s attention away from the historic victory in London and to derail the activists’ attention away from the all-important European elections next June.”
Mr Barnes said Mr Auty was a “decent” man who was being used as a puppet by party members who were trying to set up a rival political party.
He added: “It is a cynical attempt by our enemies to try to derail the party and to stop activities to get BNP members elected to the European parliament. The party is on the edge of a historic victory in Europe next year and nothing must stand in the way of getting the demo-cratically elected chairman and others elected.
“Anyone who has already signed or is thinking of signing the nomination forms for Colin Auty will be suspended from party membership pending an internal disciplinary tribunal where members will be tried for conspiracy and treason. Those found guilty will be expelled from the party and proscribed for life.”