A BNP thug – and potential councillor – has been convicted of assaulting two female pacifist protesters just days before the local elections.
David Clarke, who hopes to win a seat in the Heathfield ward, was also found guilty at Croydon Magistrates' Court of two other attacks on anti-racism campaigners. Clarke pushed, shoved and spat at Lorna Nelson-Homian, James Cox, Nigel Green and Silvia Beckett in two separate attacks last May outside East Croydon train station.
Giving evidence on Wednesday in relation to the first incident on May 27, Hope Not Hate campaigner Nigel Green said: "I saw him [Clarke] walking towards me. He was walking right towards me and I could see there would be problems. I decided to stop and put the leaflets behind my back. But he gestured for me to give him a leaflet and he basically snatched them out of my hand. They were thrown down on the street and that was quite a shock to me. Then he sort of pushed me and grabbed my arm and twirled me around. I was very shaken because I had done nothing to provoke him."
Prosecutor Daniel Irving told the court how after the first assault Clarke left only to return to repeatedly shove Ms Beckett to get to Mr Green. The court heard Clarke almost knocked the woman off her feet. Mr Irving told the court that when Clarke spotted other Hope Not Hate campaigners two days later he screamed at them: "F****** scumbags, filth on our streets, taking all our jobs."
Then Clarke again snatched leaflets, threw them on the floor and shoved Ms Nelson-Homian and Mr Cox.
Chloe-Jane Belton, defending, told the court it was the victims who assaulted the BNP council candidate and spat at him. But magistrates rejected this version of events and chair of the bench Mike Watkinson ordered reports to be prepared before his sentencing on May 17. Clarke – who was flanked by eight British National Party members in the courtroom – nodded his head in disgust as the verdict was read out.
Speaking after the verdict, Ms Nelson-Homian said: "This has gone to show that their veil of credibility has come down. The BNP always resort to their thuggish violent roots."
Speaking to the Advertiser, Clarke confirmed he would still be standing at the elections next Thursday.