The BNP leader, Nick Griffin, yesterday started his campaign to become an MP as a Sunday Telegraph investigation uncovered apparent electoral irregularities involving the far-Right party
As well as challenging Labour for the parliamentary seat of Barking in east London, the BNP’s main hope is to take control of the local council. But at least three BNP council candidates in the borough appear to have registered at "front addresses" to get around the requirement that local authority candidates must live in the area.
According to the electoral register, Eddy Butler, until recently the BNP national election organiser, lives in Loughton, Essex, 10 miles from Barking. Neighbours there said they had seen him within the last few days. However, he has submitted nomination papers giving an address in Ellerton Gardens, Dagenham. Mr Butler also recently registered himself on the roll at this address but neighbours shown pictures of him did not recognise him.
At the Dagenham address, the curtains both upstairs and downstairs were drawn in the middle of the afternoon yesterday. Contacted by telephone, Mr Butler admitted he still visited his Loughton property, that he owned the house and that members of his family still lived there, but insisted that he now lived in the rented Dagenham house.
Another BNP candidate in Barking and Dagenham, Chris Roberts, lives in Benfleet, near Southend, around 20 miles from Barking. However, in his nomination form, Mr Roberts gives an address in Arden Crescent, Dagenham — which is the home of the BNP’s London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook. Again, Mr Roberts recently registered on the electoral roll at this house. A third candidate, Gavin Cardy, gives an address in Sylvan Avenue, Chadwell Heath. The electoral register indicates that his permanent address is actually in Fulham in west London.
If the three are not genuinely living at addresses where they have registered, they could be guilty of electoral fraud and could be disqualified if elected.
Mr Roberts and Mr Cardy were not available for comment, but Bob Bailey, the leader of the BNP group on Barking council, said: "As far as I know, they have all genuinely moved address. It’s all pukka."
Mr Barnbrook said: "Chris Roberts spends enough time at my house to fulfil what the law says, and that’s good enough."
The BNP has struggled to find enough genuinely local candidates in Barking. The Sunday Telegraph has learned that, including Mr Butler, Mr Roberts and Mr Cardy, it had found only 34 candidates for 51 council seats. Party sources admitted that other candidates had been rejected by council officials for not giving local addresses on their nomination papers.
A spokesman for the anti-fascist group Searchlight said: "There are clear signs that the BNP campaign is faltering."
Mr Griffin said yesterday he was "very confident" about the Westminster contest. However, private polling for Labour is understood to show that the BNP leader is a potential drag on the ticket.