British National Party leader Nick Griffin declared applications to join were being processed again despite a court order banning recruitment of new members
In a landmark ruling, Judge Paul Collins issued an injunction against the far-right group stating its constitution was illegal and ordering it to comply with equality laws. He said the party's membership rules meant it was "likely to commit unlawful acts". But Mr Griffin claimed he had now amended the constitution to comply with the law and membership had therefore reopened.
The 17-page judgment, delivered at the Central London County Court, found the BNP's clause that any members must agree to preserve the integrity of an "indigenous British" society was illegal and should be withdrawn. It ordered the removal of the pledge to oppose immigration into the UK and maintain Britons as the "overwhelming majority" racial group. As part of the injunction, the BNP will also have to abandon its "intimidatory" policy of sending officials to the homes of prospective new members.
Mr Griffin claimed he had used his authority to alter the wording of the constitution to remove the obligation on applicants to adhere to the principles of the party. He said: "Section 4, which deals with the requirements for membership and includes the demand that members support all the principles of the party, is not protected.
"I have, therefore, with immediate effect changed the section 4 requirements, as I am entitled to do, to comply with the court order. What this means is that people can apply to join the BNP without having to endorse and support the principles of the party." He said the amended version would be published online within 30 days.
"Membership applications are therefore now open and the 7,000-strong backlog will be processed in the order in which they applied," Mr Griffin added.
A spokesman for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which brought the case against the BNP, said: "We will be monitoring the situation. They need to ensure they comply with the terms of the court order fully otherwise they will be in contempt."