June 03, 2009

Home Secretary seeks ban on BNP protesting near Home Office

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says she wants to prevent the BNP from targeting Home Office buildings for protests after a strong complaint from the Public and Commercial Services union

In a letter to PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, Ms Smith says she shares our concern about the use of the Home Office as a "backdrop" for BNP demonstrations.

PCS wrote to the home secretary in April after the BNP held an anti-immigration demo outside Lunar House in Croydon, one of the department’s main immigration enquiry offices. With just hours notice of the event, the union organised a counter demonstration and pointed out that PCS representatives had previously been denied permission to hand out leaflets about members’ pay on the same spot.

The letter from Ms Smith makes clear that the Home Office will do everything it can to prevent similar demonstrations taking place near Home Office property, and that trade unions will be fully informed about any future demonstrations. Ms Smith also gives a "personal commitment that no such demonstration will be allowed to take place actually on Home Office premises".

PCS expects this pledge to be honoured by whoever takes over as home secretary if Ms Smith steps down, as has been reported, and the union will be taking this up at the earliest opportunity with Home Office management and any future home secretary.

The union also believes BNP members should be barred from employment in the civil and public services – as they are from the police and prison service – because their views are incompatible with the provision of universal public services, free from discrimination.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "It was an absolute scandal that the BNP was ever allowed even close to Lunar House, an office that provides an important and valuable public service to migrants and their families. But we are pleased that Ms Smith has given us a commitment that it will not happen again. If it is true that she is stepping down as home secretary then I will expect her successor to honour this commitment in every detail and see that this is taken forward as a priority.

"The fascist BNP has no place in our communities, it does not speak for ordinary people and its methods of scapegoating and victimising some of the most vulnerable members of our society must be opposed at every step. Furthermore, BNP members should not be allowed to work as civil and public servants and we will continue to press the government on this issue."


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