Solas NI, a charity with the registration number XR86269, describes itself on its website as a victim support group set up to help bereaved and injured victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles. It says its aim is "to ensure that those most affected by the Troubles have recourse to a non-political and non-sectarian organisation which caters specifically for their needs". It was formed in 2003 and up to 2007 had received £111,479 of funding under a European Union programme for peace and reconciliation.
Jim Dowson is not known to hold any position in Solas, but its chair is Alex Thomas, a business partner of Dowson and husband of his sister-in-law, who is also involved in Solas. The charity also uses the same address and telephone number as another Dowson organisation, the Christian Youth Fellowship.
Jim Dowson is the sole director of Adlorries.com Ltd, the company that hired the Belfast staff. Incorporated in October 2004 it describes itself as "an independent company providing professional services without prejudice to NGOs, charities and political organisations … We are the complete business solution," its scanty website claims.
The company owns little of substance. Its latest accounts show fixed assets plus cash of nearly £27,000 against £25,000 owed in debts and long-term loans.
One of its assets is the BNP's "truth truck", better known outside the party as the lie lorry. Last year the BNP claimed to have bought the truck after a successful appeal to supporters to raise the £26,550 needed. However when bailiffs tried to enforce a county court judgement against the BNP, the party's solicitors responded that the vehicle was "registered in the name of another person who … has no connection with the judgement debtors".
In fact the truth truck turned out to be the same vehicle that Dowson had bought two years earlier for the anti-abortion UK LifeLeague, after appealing for donations from supporters. It even had the same name. A press release issued in April 2006 claimed Operation Truth Truck would "enable the pro-life message to reach the unreached across the towns and cities of Britain". The UK LifeLeague and the BNP had milked their gullible supporters twice over for the same "truth truck" which never left the ownership of Adlorries.com.
Albion Logistical Solutions Ltd
Incorporated in February 2009, Albion Logistical Solutions Ltd has an address in Loughborough and one director, Jim Dowson. It was this company that organised the printing of over 28 million glossy BNP European election leaflets earlier this year.
Early in 2008 BNP senior officers and activists were invited to attend "high level management training" arranged by "a professional management consultancy and training company", which "uses a property in Spain as its main training base". Searchlight quickly established that the organiser was a Belfast-based business called the Midas Consultancy, the name under which Jim Dowson marketed his management and fundraising skills, and that the training base was in Valencia on the Costa Blanca.
Christian Youth Fellowship
The Christian Youth Fellowship shares premises with Solas NI and its contact person is listed as J Dowson. Its activities centre around anti-abortion and anti-gay campaigning, though in May it took part in the launch of TIDY Northern Ireland's Clean Coast Programme on Portrush, Whiterocks beach.
Jim Dowson is the main public face of the hardline anti-abortion UK LifeLeague, which uses highly provocative tactics, such as publishing the home addresses of abortion clinic staff. Similar actions by anti-abortion groups in the US have resulted in the murder of doctors.
Formed in 1999, the LifeLeague claims to be committed to peaceful campaigning "to end the violence of abortion". Although its website states that "campaigning is an important part of what we do", the organisation appears to have done nothing since early 2008 apart from raising money.
Jim Dowson helped his eldest son, James Dowson Jr, to set up Ultraplumb.com Ltd, a company registered at Dowson's address in Cumbernauld, Scotland, in 2007. Dowson Jr, 21, (pictured) is the sole director and Marion Thomas, Dowson Sr's sister-in-law, is the Company Secretary. Ultraplumb styles itself as "Northern Ireland's premier plumbing company" but of the three testimonials on its website, dated 2007, one is from Thomas herself. Its accounts are several months overdue for filing at Companies House.
After the exposé of the BNP's Belfast bunker operation in the Irish press, Dowson Jr painted out the signs on his company's vans, fearing reprisals from the local population.
BNP offices in Stroud and Nuneaton
Stroud: The large grey stone house on a Stroud industrial estate is not the sort of place one might expect the BNP to occupy. Jim Dowson's company Adlorries.com Ltd leased three rooms at Unit 13, Salmon Springs Trading Estate, Painswick Road, Stroud for three years, paying £5,000 a year in rent to the owner, D J Melsome Ltd. They were to be used as a training centre for the BNP run by Michaela Mackenzie, but have remained empty after the party sacked her from her posts as administration officer and national nominating officer. Like many in the BNP it appears she clashed with Dowson, but came off second best. Unfortunately for Dowson, the lease has no cancellation clause.
Nuneaton: Alwyn Deacon, the BNP's West Midlands regional organiser, leases Unit 3 Slingsby Close, Attleborough Fields Industrial Estate, Nuneaton from Nuneaton and Bedworth council, where the BNP has one councillor following the resignation of a second last month. Deacon is also the BNP's enquiries secretary and national dispatch manager, a job he carries out at the unit.
Like the unit the BNP secretly occupied on a Deeside industrial estate last year, until the landlords evicted the party following a Searchlight exposé, the Nuneaton premises also houses Excalibur, the BNP's merchandising operation. Since May Excalibur has been run privately by Arthur Kemp, the BNP's foreign affairs spokesman, under an annually renewable licence from the party. Excalibur's range of tatty cringe-making and overpriced goods include golliwogs, Replica Victoria Crosses, condemned by the Ministry of Defence as an insult to British troops' heroism, Enoch Powell t-shirts and copies of Kemp's own dismal books.
The Nuneaton unit also houses a call centre with 20 phone lines, where BNP staff try to solicit as much money as possible in donations and merchandise sales from past Excalibur customers, party members, and anyone else unfortunate enough to be on their phone number list.
Friday: Dissecting the Dowsons The leak of the BNP membership list last month has turned the spotlight on the party’s Belfast call centre, the tensions it has caused in the party, and the links between the man who runs it and a charity that has received a six-figure sum in EU funding. Matthew Collins and Simon Cressy investigate.