A pub landlord has today told how he was almost duped into allowing the British National Party to use the building for a meeting - after the far-right group used a false name.
Andrew Coleman, 43, who has run The White Horse in Trowse with wife Pam, 45, for 15 years, took a call from a group called the Broadland Historical Society wanting to arrange a meeting at the pub tomorrow. But Mr Coleman only found out about the con this week when he received a call from a member of the public warning him that the Broadland Historical Society - a non-existent group - was in fact a name used by the BNP.
He said: “I had a phone call from some guy warning me what was happening and I phoned the British National Party to cancel the meeting. The meeting had been booked in good faith with the 'Broadland Historical Society' which appears to be an alias for the British National Party. It's not the type of people or group you want your pub to be associated with, so I cancelled the meeting. I was surprised that they had done this and they had booked the meeting under a false name.”
Simon Darby, press officer for the BNP, defended the decision to book the venue under a false name.
He said: “The question people should be asking is why we have to do that? In the past when we have booked a pub for a meeting under our own name, the council has maybe gone around to the establishment, warned them that their license is up for renewal, and then told them they don't want them to hold the meeting. That's why we sometimes have to book under different names. If this happened to one of the other political parties, then people would ask why, but because it's us, nothing's said.”
The meeting of the Norfolk BNP was scheduled to start at 3pm and the speaker was due to be Eddy Butler, a BNP eastern area regional organiser, whose subject would have been the European and county council elections to be held in June.
An email inviting BNP members and friends along to the meeting advises attendees the meeting was booked under the name 'Broadland Historical Society', and warns people to be “discreet” when in the pub's bar area.
Last November, as reported in The Evening News, hundreds of people from Norfolk were named as members of the BNP in a list posted on the internet. The list, which included names, addresses, phone numbers, details of the jobs and in some cases the hobbies and qualifications of about 12,000 members, included a Norwich pub landlord and 219 others from Norfolk.
Nationwide, serving and former police officers teachers and soldiers were listed as members of the BNP in the leaked document.
Last June The Evening news reported that several members of the BNP had their cars vandalised while the group held a meeting in a village near Norwich. Windscreens were smashed, paint was sprayed across vehicles and paint stripper was poured over three cars parked at the Stoke Mill Conference Centre and Restaurant in Stoke Holy Cross. Around 100 supporters and members of the BNP had gathered at the venue for a meeting.
Norwich Evening News