A national scrutiny committee has been appointed to examine the British National Party’s treasury department, according to a report of the party’s Advisory Council meeting on 14 August posted on the BNP website.
The committee “has been tasked with examining the structure of the treasury department and making concrete moves to ensure that there is a clear division between those who manage the accounts and those who authorise outlays,” according to the party.
The establishment of this committee is clearly an attempt to dispel the widespread accusations of financial impropriety in the BNP. As well as the party’s incompetent treasurer, Dave Hannam, its members include the party’s East Midlands regional organiser Geoff Dickens, the Wales regional organiser Brian Mahoney and the East Midlands regional treasurer James Mole.
According to Nick Griffin, the party leader, Dickens and Mahoney have “decades of experience in managing business with bigger turnovers with the BNP and will bring their expertise to bear on the committee”. Mole has also been appointed as the BNP’s new “regional treasurer”, whose job will be to act as treasurer for those regions (most of them) that cannot run their own finances.
However the very limited role of the scrutiny committee means it is unlikely to restore party members’ shaken confidence in the BNP’s dire finances. In fact Griffin himself gave away its true purpose: to protect Hannam. “This committee has been given the mission to transparently study everything so that the national treasurer can be completely protected from malicious allegations,” Griffin said.
Although Griffin stated that the party’s finances were the main focus of the Advisory Council meeting, it does not appear that Hannam made the party’s detailed financial records available for inspection, as Ken Booth, the North East regional organiser had requested before being peremptorily sacked by Griffin.
Interestingly Griffin ascribed the party’s serious financial situation to the party growing faster than its systems could cope with, an excuse he has used before but which differs from what he puts in his begging letters, in which he blames the legal action against the party’s racist constitution brought by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The true cause, which Griffin never admits, is that he has brought the party to insolvency by pursuing reckless legal actions and making idiotic decisions with expensive consequences such as to use the image of a jar of Marmite on the party’s general election broadcast.
Rumours continue to circulate that the party is about to be put into liquidation by its numerous creditors, which include HM Revenue and Customs, various firms of solicitors and Michaela Mackenzie, a former employee to whom Griffin agreed to pay an undisclosed sum of compensation for unfair dismissal but failed to do so by the due date of 14 July.
The meeting also heard that its new member dropout rate – people who join the party but fail to renew their membership after the first year – was critically low. According to Griffin the party’s Belfast call centre had ascertained that the main reason was the lack of contact after joining the party.
Griffin blamed this on local units. However many of his critics have said that the call centre has failed to pass on details of many inquiries to the call centre and where information is passed on it is inaccurate and unusable.
The party had previously said that the establishment of the Belfast call centre, under the control of the convicted criminal Jim Dowson, who controls most of the BNP’s operations and assets, had successfully increased the membership renewal rate, but this now appears to have been a lie.
The revelation casts doubt on the party’s claimed membership figure of 14,000. The party’s 2009 accounts, which would include a statement of the number of members at 31 December 2009, remain unavailable.
The Advisory Council meeting also heard that the party intends to relaunch its campaign against the Afghanistan war in the autumn with “leaflets, petitions and online campaigning”, in a bid to “start recruiting again in earnest”.
Sonia Gable at HOPE not hate