- Far-right activist arrested over Hani's murder in 1993
- Anti-fascist group warns of BNP 'mask of moderation'
Arthur Kemp runs the party's merchandising arm, Excalibur, and was pictured this week at the BNP's election headquarters in mid-Wales helping to prepare thousands of campaign leaflets.
Hani was one of South Africa's most popular and skilled black politicians and his killing was an attempt to derail the transition from apartheid to democracy. Kemp, the author of March of the Titans: A History of the White Race, was one of a number of people arrested in connection with the murder. He was released without charge but information drawn from a list of names he produced was found at the home of anti-Communist activist Janusz Walus, who was one of two men convicted of the shooting.
At the subsequent trial, at which he appeared as a prosecution witness, Kemp admitted producing a list of names but denied having knowingly supplied a "hitlist". The list had Nelson Mandela's name at the top; Hani's was third.
Kemp's book, which is popular with far-right activists around the world, questions the number of Jews killed in the second world war.
Kemp worked for the white supremacist South African Conservative party before moving to the UK in 1996. He joined the BNP and now helps edit the party's website and is widely seen as one of leader Nick Griffin's key policy advisers.
Last night a spokesman for the BNP said Kemp was a "valued member" of the party but said he did not have an official role in the election campaign. Kemp said he was "just an ordinary volunteer".
Kemp's involvement emerged as an internal memo revealed a growing anxiety within the BNP that "careless extremism" could spoil the party's chances of securing its first MEP in June's elections.
The document, sent to activists last weekend, states: "Any adverse publicity arising from careless remarks reported in the press could wreck our chances of election so please make all your members aware that they should observe the utmost caution in this respect."
However the BNP's attempts to brand itself as a mainstream party have been hampered by the actions of its two most senior figures in the last two weeks:
- Griffin was widely criticised for defending a BNP leaflet that said black and Asian Britons "do not exist" and should be referred to as "racial foreigners". He added that a "bloodless genocide" was taking place in the UK.
- Deputy leader Simon Darby described the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, as an "ambitious African" and said Sentamu's fellow Ugandans threw spears at their enemies.
- Photographs emerged of Griffin alongside former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard Stephen "Don" Black – one of the extremists banned from the UK by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith.
A spokesman for Searchlight, the anti-fascist organisation which uncovered the picture of Kemp at the BNP's election headquarters, said the party's attempt to portray itself as a mainstream organisation was "unravelling". "The plan was to present a moderate facade until polling day, but even before the campaign has formally been launched their mask of moderation has been torn away," he said.
Some analysts believe the BNP could win up to six seats in the European parliament although it appears the party is planning to concentrate most of its efforts on two regions – the North West, where Griffin is standing, and the West Midlands.
In the North West Griffin needs 9% of the vote to be guaranteed a seat but could be elected with 7.5%. In 2004 the BNP polled 6.4% but has since broadened its campaign beyond its traditional heartlands of east Lancashire and Greater Manchester to include areas such as Cumbria and Merseyside. In the West Midlands it needs around 11.5% of the vote to be guaranteed an MEP – 4% more than it achieved in 2004. Analysts believe the collapse of support for the UK Independence party and growing disillusionment with the three main parties, especially Labour, may play into their hands.
In the last 12 months senior figures in the BNP, hopeful of a breakthrough and a windfall of up to £2m in funding, have attended a series of meetings with extremist groups across Europe in an attempt to prepare the way for a far right coalition.
Last month Darby was pictured arriving at a conference in Milan flanked by men giving a one-armed fascist salute. Roberto Fiore, leader of Forza Nuova, a rightwing Italian party, who once said he was happy to be described as a neo-fascist, was present, as was French National Front MEP and convicted Holocaust denier Bruno Gollnisch. Darby spoke of the "looming and growing problem of the colonisation of our country [UK] by Islamists".
In October Griffin addressed a crowd of far-right activists in Prague including hundreds of members of the Czech National party which has produced a study titled The Final Solution of the Gypsy Question. He also spoke at a nationalist rally in Hungary telling the crowd: "We are all in the same struggle against the same enemies. Now we all stand together in a long march for freedom and the next step on that long march to freedom is June 2009."
Last night Darby said the BNP did not agree with everyone it shared a platform with, adding the party was trying to promote a "sensible nationalism" to stop the UK becoming an "Islamic Marxist" state.
However, Labour MP Jon Cruddas said the BNP was attempting to use the elections to build "a pan-European network of hate".
"They know for every MEP they get elected they will secure hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money to subsidise the campaigns of prejudice, extremism and division."