Hospital snubs BNP donation for our heroes
A Midland hospital which treats hero soldiers wounded in Afghanistan has refused a donation from the British National Party. Bosses at Selly Oak hospital in Birmingham turned down money from the far-right party after its members made the collection, claiming it would be donated to build a burns unit for injured squaddies.
The BNP, whose leader Nick Griffin is MEP for the North West, say they were selling stickers calling for troops to withdraw from Afghanistan in a bid “to help our brave and wounded soldiers”.
But a spokesman for Selly Oak Hospital, which houses the army’s Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, said: “The British National Party is selling merchandise with the promise of donating the proceeds to the Selly Oak Hospital burns unit. Neither the University Hospitals of Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust nor its official charity, UHB Charities, have been contacted by the BNP about this venture, and the Trust does not accept money from any political party,” said the spokesman.
Labour MP for the area Dr Lynne Jones said: “I think the BNP is using the good name of the hospital to further its distasteful views.”
In October the hospital was at the centre of a political storm when Mr Griffin claimed injured soldiers on Selly Oak’s wards had to pay to watch television. Griffin was attempting to justify his wearing of a poppy on a televised debate against the wishes of the Royal British Legion. He said he would remove the poppy if the Legion would put pressure on the Government to stop “charging young British soldiers with no legs in Selly Oak Hospital” to watch TV. His claims were described as “absolute rubbish” by an Army spokesman who stressed military patients had free access to internet, television and phones.
Last night, John Walker, the BNP’s spokesman, said the party was disappointed by the hospital’s decision not to accept their donation.
“I am sure that it’s because it’s the BNP that they are doing this,” he claimed. “We have as much right to campaign on soldiers and these issues as any other party. If Selly Oak won’t take the money, we will find a soldiers’ charity that will.”
Earlier this year, a group of senior military commanders attacked the BNP for hijacking the sacrifices of soldiers in order to gain votes. After the BNP used images of Winston Churchill to fight their European election campaign, former heads of the British Army General Sir Mike Jackson and General Sir Richard Dannatt wrote an open letter saying the party was “fundamentally at odds” with the values of the British military.
“We call on all those who seek to hijack the good name of Britain’s military for their own advantage to cease and desist,” the generals said. “The values of these extremists – many of whom are essentially racist – are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military, such as tolerance and fairness.”
Griffin, who was convicted of inciting racial hatred in 1998 for publishing material appearing to deny the Holocaust, responded by comparing the generals to Nazi war criminals.