October 23, 2009

Questions over former BNP member's help for ex-soldiers

A former BNP member is facing questions about his political past after setting up an organisation to help homeless ex-soldiers.

Soldiers Off The Street (SOTS) was founded earlier this year by the BNP's former Welsh secretary Bill Murray and his wife Marie. Despite the couple's previous political involvement there is no mention of the party on the SOTS website. SOTS operates out of an office in Wrexham which is owned by the mother of the BNP's lead candidate in the recent European elections.

Ennys Hughes, the BNP member whose mother owns the building, says that the property was applied for in the normal manner through an estate agent, and that SOTS is 'just like any other tenant, anyone could have applied and got it... the building has been in our family for 25 years, I think at one point Plaid Cymru were in there.'

Despite this, local campaigners have expressed concern over the possibility of links between the organisation and the BNP and have raised questions about how money contributed by the public is to be used.

Dan Roberts, a spokesman for the campaign group Wrexham Against Racism and Fascism, said: "There is no mention on the website that this organisation was set up by key BNP personnel. We're concerned that money that's given in good faith by the general public could be used to fund the BNP's own hateful campaigning."

Campaigners from the nothingbritish.com have written to the Charities Commission expressing their concern that SOTS could be the 'latest and possibly most troublesome example of astroturfing'. Astroturfing is the establishment of an artificial grass-roots campaign which claims to be spontaneous but is actually formally planned and disguises its origins.

In response to the allegations Murray says that he left the BNP around a month before the charity was founded. He stated: "I left because I wanted to set this up (SOTS) because I think it's scandalous the way ex-service personnel are treated."

He denies any existing links with the BNP claiming he resigned from the party on the 15th of August this year because 'politics is all dirty' and he'd 'had enough of policies and wanted to help people'.

Murray states that the claim the organisation is a front for the BNP is "rubbish" saying "let them go to the police if they believe that's the case". He also says that on setting up the organisation he was offered support from the BNP but turned it down because "I don't believe any political organisation should be involved with a charity".

Murray says that though no one involved with SOTS is currently a member of the BNP, he would have no objection to party members being involved. The SOTS website contains a prominent advertisement on its front page for FEBA, or Forward Edge of Battle Area, a Scottish organisation that has received support from the BNP. Nick Griffin originally claimed on the BNP website that the party gave £25,000 worth of help to the Scottish charity. It was later discovered that the donation amounted only to £3000.

Tommy Moffat, founder of FEBA said: "If the BNP want to make a difference the door is open. I have been assured by BNP sources that we will not be politically involved with them, it is only a donation."

The BNP is facing continued criticism for promoting members' donations to charities including the Royal British Legion and Help For Heroes.


Thanks to Wrexham Against Racism and Fascism for the heads-up.

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