David Miliband has secretly banned British embassy staff from giving help to BNP leader Nick Griffin. The Foreign Secretary has also ordered diplomats not to assist the far-Right party’s other MEP, former National Front leader Andrew Brons.
A letter, entitled ‘Handling Extremist MEPs’ and marked ‘Restricted’, was circulated to the heads of Britain’s European embassies after the pair were elected to the European Parliament in June. Written by Matthew Rycroft, the UK’s top European Union diplomat, it says far-Right MEPs, like other British members of the European Parliament, can be sent ‘factual written briefings’ on policy issues but nothing else. British MEPs from mainstream parties can normally expect private briefings from officials and to be offered the chance to meet diplomats and Ministers.
Mr Rycroft wrote: ‘FCO Ministers have decided that there should be no other contact with MEPs of any nationality who represent racist or extremist views.’
The letter adds that other Government offices have also been advised to restrict help. As a direct consequence of the policy – revealed after a Freedom of Information Act request – the BNP MEPs have not been invited to two Foreign Office receptions.
Last night, the Foreign Office said the letter was to remind diplomats of the ‘longstanding’ policy on those who represent racist views. The disclosure follows the row over Mr Miliband’s attack on the Conservatives’ alliance with the Latvian Fatherland And Freedom Party and one of its MEPs who, the Foreign Secretary said, had an ‘anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi past’.
But it also comes after Labour’s decision to abandon its policy of not sharing the same platform with the BNP – paving the way for Nick Griffin’s controversial appearance on Question Time with Justice Secretary Jack Straw.