A pretty blonde mum from Bangor, a lonely heart ex-RUC officer and a former fire chief are among the Northern Ireland people whose names have appeared on a leaked list belonging to the far-right British National Party.
A total of 39 local people are named on the alleged membership list of around 13,000 people UK wide. The BNP leadership has confirmed the list that has been spread across the internet is largely accurate, but say some non-members names had been added to create mischief.
One Northern Ireland man who openly says he’s proud to be a member of the BNP is ex-RUC officer Sandy Alexander from Portstewart. The lonely heart divorcee may support the BNP’s tough anti-immigration policies, but he certainly seems to enjoy the company of foreigners having developed online friendships with a string of Thai beauties on a social network site.
Ex-cop Sandy describes himself as “fun-loving”, “romantic” and a “good listener” on his Friendster site where he has posted pictures of himself posing with a machine gun, his sports car and in his old RUC uniform. The divorced dad-of-three says he’s “still looking for his ideal lady” and the dating site reveals that most of his online contacts are with women who live in Bangkok.
Last week Sandy told the BBC how he was proud to be a member of the BNP after his name appeared on list of party members leaked on the Internet.
“I'm in a party I firmly believe in and why should I not hold my head high like anyone else,” he said.
The BNP supports a policy ending immigration and repatriation of immigrants already residing in the UK.
Former Dungannon fire chief Harry Martin — a one-time vice-president of the UK Retired Fire Fighters Association — said he had made a one-off payment to the BNP, but then charged his mind about joining the far right party a short time later. Mr Martin, who now works as a lollypop man, said: “I realised it was important that I was neutral. The fire brigade is neutral and I have always been neutral. There was just one particular thing they were doing at that time that I agreed with and I can’t remember what it was.”
A mum from Bangor and her husband are also among those revealed as members of the British National Party. Young professionals Andy and Lisa Giltrap say they were in the BNP for about a year and attended a number of party meetings, but are no longer members. Husband Andy told Sunday Life: “I would stress we are not racist in anyway.”
He added that the BNP had been unfairly branded as a Nazi group by the media.
“I do care about being British and I do believe we are being overrun by immigrants. I support the party’s policy of controlled immigration,” he said. “In the time we were in the BNP we attended meetings and we met a lot of good people. We never met anyone who was racist. There were old ladies and all kinds of people at those meetings. They were people who concerned about issues like immigration. People were seeing what has been happening in England, there are areas where people just can’t go into.”
Mr Giltrap said he joined the BNP via the internet because at the time he passionately agreed with many of the party’s policies — particularly those on immigration, capital punishment and education. He said he took out family membership as his wife broadly shared his views. He added that he still agreed with many of the BNP’s views, but had left about a year ago as his interest had waned.
On her Bebo website Lisa Giltrap says her favourite past-time is “going out with my friends on the booze and making an ass of myself”.
One message posted some time ago on Lisa’s website was from a woman friend from Carryduff who said: “BNP. We’re gonna be a MINORITY, in 25 years your kids are gonna get beaten up for being white. Sure thing Lisa.”
Another message from a man called Stevie and posted long before the BNP list was leaked, said: “Up the BNP. Happy Hannukah!!”
Mr Giltrap said his wife could not be responsible for messages posted on a Bebo site she rarely used, but added that he knew the man who sent the “Up the BNP” message and described him as an “idiot”.
Squaddie Gary Wilkinson from Ballycarry, Co Antrim was another named on the leaked BNP list. The serving soldier no longer lives at the address that was held on the BNP’s now-exposed membership list. Oddly, for someone who appears on the BNP’s membership list, Wilkinson complains on his Bebo website that he hates England.
“I know loads of nice English people, but in general they are ignorant,” he says.
After his name was one of dozens of Ulster names leaked last week by a former BNP activist, his website was being attacked by anti-BNP campaigners. When Sunday Life contacted his family home his mother confirmed that he had received mail from the BNP, but added “he wasn’t interested in it” and the mail was never forwarded on. She added: “He doesn’t have anything to do with it. There was paperwork came in at a time, but I haven’t been forwarding anything on to him.”
Another person on the list is north Belfast pensioner Margaret Weir who told Sunday Life she was horrified and mystified that her name and details appeared on the list. She says she has never been a member of the BNP.
“I’d never even heard of the BNP until Tuesday night and I don’t understand how my name got on this list. I don’t agree with what they stand for,” she said. “The first I knew anything about it was when I got a crank call on Tuesday night. I thought the man said BP and was trying to sell me oil. I’ve had about six crank calls since then. I’ve no idea how my name got on my list. It’s very worrying,” she said.
The fearful pensioner asked that we use her name so that she could publicly deny having anything to do with the BNP, but did not want us to publish her full address. The BNP is a perfectly legal party although serving police officers are banned from being members.
Merseyside police, which has ordered an investigation into one of its police officers whose name appeared on the BNP list, issued a statement saying: “We are very clear, membership of the BNP is totally incompatible with the duties and values of the police service. We will not accept a police officer or police staff being a member.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers said all 43 constabularies were examining the list to see whether any of their serving officers were on it.
BNP leader Nick Griffin did confirm the list was largely accurate, but he said said some non-members names had been added to create mischief.
The anti-racist group Searchlight believes the leaked list overstated membership by 2,000. Instead, it thought it was a target list for potential donors and recipients of propaganda material, among them past and present members. The full UK wide list includes 16 serving and more than 50 former soldiers, five civil servants, 15 teachers and several church ministers.