Police have launched an investigation into a series of sinister phone calls made to an opponent of the British National Party. The barrage of around 15 calls included a threat to "burn down" his home in West Cornwall. He said he received them within 24 hours of ringing up a handful of alleged local BNP members whose names, addresses and phone numbers had been leaked online.
The West Briton has heard a selection of the threatening messages left on his mobile phone over a three-day period last week. One caller said: "We've found out where you live. Didn't take us long, did it? We're coming down to Cornwall tomorrow."
Another message said: "I'm waiting for you to come out because I'm going to slit your ....... throat."
A third said: "We believe you like to intimidate people. We're doing the same thing to you. Your phone number's just gone out to 12,000 BNP members. Have a nice day."
The man who received the calls, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said he believed his phone number was posted on the BNP members' website forum by one or more of the Cornish members he had contacted.
He said: "I was looking through all the names and addresses (on the membership list) and rang up four or five to try to gauge why they had joined the party. Cornwall members knowingly provided all my details to a forum that is only open to BNP members. They constantly try to claim they do not intimidate people, but the reality is they cannot get away from these facts. Receiving these calls confirms why it is important for me and others to continue to expose them. I turned off my mobile and I'm just relieved I do not live near these people."
The stream of messages came several days after the BNP's Cornwall-based "webmaster", Colin [Simon, surely?] Bennett, said "possibly" four of the county's members had received threatening phone calls and death threats since their identities had become public.
Party leader Nick Griffin said the list – released on an internet blog by a "disgruntled former employee" – had invaded his members' privacy.
Alan Mobbs, spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "We can confirm that we have had a complaint from a man in West Cornwall concerning a number of threatening phone calls he has received. He has been visited by an officer and an investigation is under way. Relevant evidence is being gathered and the matter is being dealt with seriously. All efforts will be made to catch those responsible."
BNP spokesman Simon Darby claimed, however, that the man who received the calls had himself broken the law governing data protection by handling the leaked membership list. He said: "We are getting hundreds, if not thousands, of calls winding people up, harassing them and threatening them."
Referring to the batch of offensive calls allegedly made by BNP members, Mr Darby added: "It's not on and if a criminal offence has been committed, it should be investigated but I hope the police investigate him, too."