- 'Nine ex-Conservatives' on leaked files
- Merseyside police officer suspended from duty
A former constituency chairman for the Conservatives, a former Labour prospective parliamentary candidate, and a church minister who had been at various times a Green, a Conservative and a Liberal Democrat, all went public on why they had switched parties in the wake of the leaking of a BNP members' list.
Lionel Buck said he was chairman of Ashfield Conservative association in Nottinghamshire for about four years, joining the BNP two years ago. He told the Guardian: "The way the country is at the moment, there is no major party, whether it be Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat, looking after the indigenous population."
Andrew Emerson said he had been due to fight Chichester in Sussex for the Labour party in 1997 before illness ruled him out, but joined the BNP in 2005, when he had been the party's candidate for Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. He had since tried to get elected to Chichester council, in his last attempt last month gaining 12.3% of the vote in the ward. The main reason for changing parties was "my unhappiness with the [Labour] party's open-door immigration policy, making no attempt whatever to control immigration ... and to properly control our borders".
John Stanton, who heads the Rock Dene Christian Fellowship in his home town in Rochford, Essex, with a congregation of 22, had also been a Green, a member of Ukip, a Lib Dem councillor in the 1990s and a member of the Conservatives in the 1970s. He told the Press Association that "the flood of immigration" was a problem, as was Islam and the European Union. He said he had been with the BNP for eight months.
A worried Labour MP, whose constituency is about 98% white and appears to have the most BNP members, told the Guardian it was sometimes difficult to address concerns of communities "stirred up by malicious and false information".
Colin Challen, MP for Morley and Rothwell in Yorkshire, where there are 90 members according to the list, said it was "very disappointing that local people, even to that extent, have been persuaded to believe the racist claptrap and hate politics of the BNP".
But research indicated, he said, that "sadly it is very often the case that areas which have a very small ethnic minority population and large working class population have developed pockets of support for the British National party".
It was a "matter of shame" that a seat on Leeds city council that fell within his constituency was held by a BNP member. The main political parties had to understand the concerns of communities and work to address them, even in the face of inflammatory information.
The Labour party said it would expel anyone found to be a member of the BNP; the Lib Dems "deplored" its beliefs and tactics; and the Conservatives said all mainstream parties "have an obligation to address the voter alienation and disillusionment that fuels support for extremism".
Nine people on the BNP membership list are said to be former Conservatives, but the party said it only knew of six, and they had been associated with party some years ago.
Meanwhile, a police officer whose name appeared on the BNP list was tonight suspended from duty by Merseyside police, a spokesman for the force said. PC Stephen Bettley, who worked as a driver for the chief constable, Bernard Hogan-Howe, in 2006, returned early from a holiday abroad tonight to help the force with an investigation into his alleged involvement.
Police are banned from becoming members of the far-right party because it conflicts with obligations under race relations laws.