The British National Party faces a new probe after its chief fundraiser secured more than £111,000 of European Union cash
James Dowson, who raised money for the party’s general election campaign, received the funds in 2006 under an EU programme to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. His organisation Solas NI claimed to be a “victim support group”, but it is now dormant, its offices shuttered and its phone lines closed.
A Dowson spokesman said: “As far as Jim Dowson is aware, Solas NI complied with all its legal, regulatory, funding and public disclosure obligations and requirements in full during the time he was a trustee.”
Dowson is also the mastermind behind a BNP fundraising and call centre on an industrial estate in Dundonald, Belfast. Since spring 2009, the BNP has carried out almost all its telephone fundraising and recruitment from the office, known as “The Bunker”.
The revelation about the EU donation follows the admission by BNP boss Nick Griffin that he is claiming more than £200,000 in European Parliamentary expenses. A spokesman for anti- fascist group Searchlight said: “Not a day goes by without the BNP attacking so-called EU waste, but they have their noses buried deeper in the trough of EU grants and expenses than just about any other party.”
Searchlight is writing to the EU anti-fraud office to call for a probe into the Dowson grant.