One of the strangest characters ever to grace the extreme-Right stage is Tony Lecomber (pictured above, in his natural element). Few know quite what to make of him. There has long been speculation in fascist quarters that Lecomber was "turned" during one of his spells of imprisonment, and has ever since supplied information to the Special Branch; a variation on the same theme has it that Lecomber is, or was, a wholly-owned puppet of "the state", bent on destroying the BNP's best branches, promoting division, earning the party bad publicity, and generally keeping it restricted in size and unthreatening to "the state" BNP members believe lives in terror of them.
They do love a good conspiracy theory in the BNP.
We don't know the truth of that or of much else surrounding Lecomber, though there is more than a suspicion that in the past he has been helpful to agencies operating beyond the reach of the BNP. What we do know is that he is not to be trusted.
Lecomber was probably more responsible than Griffin for the success of Griffin's long-laid plans to capture the BNP leadership from founder John Tyndall. He operated for years as Griffin's second in command, and played a crucial role in the long roll-call of expulsions and divisions that have characterised the Griffin leadership.
When disgruntled members ask "Where has all the talent gone?" they should keep in mind that Lecomber stands squarely next to Griffin as the man bearing most responsibility for the purging and bullying that saw it off. Griffin routinely ousted talent that he saw as a future threat to his own position, together with those who - as so many in the BNP have belatedly come to realise - became aware of the shady financial business going on at the top of the party. Tony Lecomber was Griffin's willing accomplice, if not, in some cases, the instigator.
Lecomber fell from grace due to his alleged involvement in a "death plot" (see here), but was not formally proscribed by Nick Griffin (and then in glowing terms) until after he attacked Eddy Butler at Loughton rail station - something that has never been properly explained. Even then, it was clear from early on that Lecomber remained involved with the BNP and was on the best of terms with Griffin.
With a record involving possession of explosives and various acts of thuggery, at first glance Lecomber appears little more than a violent loon, but he is that rare thing, a violent loon in charge of a brain that sometimes operates at a close to normal temperature, from which he derives the organisational ability and the nose for plotting and scheming which kept him at the top of the Griffinite BNP for so long.
Lecomber is one of those lurking in the background of the current dispute, presenting himself as an honest broker, and claiming to have offered advice to Griffin and Butler. He affects disappointment with Nick Griffin, saying that he advised Griffin to go directly after the Question Time debacle, and rather surprisingly admits that "only Eddy Butler" can save the BNP. In the manner of a despairing wife finally confronting the reality of a failed marriage, he complains on the increasingly crowded British Democracy Forum that he just doesn't understand Nick any more.
That says "maybe". Lecomber has a well earned reputation for double-dealing, such that those with experience of him immediately, and wisely, go on their guard when the ex-con approaches with his hand outstretched and friendly words tumbling from his lips. They wonder what his game is.
Though Lecomber doesn't admit to criminal wrong-doing in regard to the BNP's finances, he does come close to admitting the probability. Like most of those previously close to Griffin and who are now laying all manner of accusations at his door, Lecomber claims to have heard nothing and saw nothing that aroused his suspicion.
Well, he would say that, wouldn't he? Tony doesn't really have much of a choice.
[As a sidelight to this, I have an email from a Lecomber victim in which the sender wonders whether the former second in command isn't using the British Democracy Forum to subtly but publicly remind Griffin that he knows where the bodies are buried, Lecomber no longer enjoying the financial considerations that were once his. It's a thought - unlikely, but worth noting.]
Wherever in the current troubles Lecomber really stands, he does occasionally (amid much self-serving distortion) slip in information which appears to confirm that which reaches us via secondary sources, sometimes (apparently) gratuitously so.
Visitors to this and the Hope Not Hate websites will recall Sonia Gable's recent article "BNP leadership may have pocketed party bequests", which reported on a meeting of the Reform Group:
The meeting heard that questions had been raised over bequests and other large donations that had allegedly been paid direct to the leadership. It was unclear whether the party had benefited from these bequests and probate information would be obtained to investigate these rumours.A short while after this a cryptic, anonymous comment was left here and moderated out (we don't wish to become part of the battleground on which the BNP factions fight, or to spread the rumours both sides attempt to plant here). It spoke of a bequest that would (from memory) "give the BNP a lifeline". Lecomber today (Friday) claims that the BNP is in line for two bequests which will prevent the party from going, as he puts it, "belly up", at least in the short term.
These bequests must be of a substantial amount, though it is difficult to believe that together they could total more than the minimum £500,000 the BNP needs to crawl out of the financial mire into which Nick Griffin has plunged it. Perhaps there will be enough to cover some smaller debts and to make goodwill payments to the larger creditors, who will be staved off by promises to pay by installment. Even so, the BNP, shrinking, demoralised and barely active, is still left with the problem that even the most basic daily expenditure continues to outstrip income.
It would appear, then, that reports of the BNP's early death are greatly exaggerated. There will be a slight recovery, but the prognosis remains terminal unless the party can clear its debts and cut expenditure to match its greatly reduced income. It can probably keep going long enough to outlast whatever danger is posed by the Reform Group, which is showing distinct signs of flagging together with what may prove a fatal loss of direction - the Reform Group's failure to fund legal challenges on behalf of suspended members, or even to challenge - as promised - the rigged nominations procedure, is hardly helping morale. They could still do both and may yet surprise us, but as supporters begin to lose confidence in a Reform leadership that has huffed and puffed to little real effect for the last near four months, the possibility seems remote. We won't write them off just yet, however, as there are several jokers in the pack and they have been dealt several. They only want for the will to play them.
In the matter of the two bequests mentioned by Lecomber, what is more interesting is his clear imputation that there must have been others which have gone unrecorded, and which, by implication, must have found their way into Griffin's hands.
Lecomber, taking his customary swipe at the loathed John Tyndall, explains thus:
... the BNP pre-Nick had a couple of legacies. One was quite substantial. Tyndall blagged it as you know, quite legally. Nick is aware of how that particular trick worked.The legacy "blagged" by Tyndall, incidentally, is a matter of ongoing dispute. For what it's worth, Tyndall always claimed the legacy was made over to him to disburse as he saw fit, and one can see that a convinced Tyndallite might want to endow his fuhrer with the means to propogate the cause in a wider, unrestricted and independent manner rather than to sink funds into an inefficient party machine. Tyndall, after all, represented far more than the BNP could ever admit to, and every Tyndallite knew it.
...with a [pre-Griffin] party that numbered between 1,500 and 2,000 getting a legacy every 3 or 4 years and with its membership demographic being primarily poorer older folk and young 'herberts'; how is it that a party with a considerably larger membership (3x - 7x) and with a more up-market demographic not had any legacies at all over all the period that the Electoral Commission has wanted published accounts? These legacies should show up either under a heading saying 'bequests' or as a humungous donation.
...So for 7 years we haven't had a single legacy. Now in 2010, as the need is dire, two show up at once just like buses. It stinks. And I'm furious.
And if this is the way of it, then the real reason that Nick can't step down is that someone will want to know why legacies are hitting the party account and going straight out again [my emphasis]. Of course, if it's the case that the party Will Packs (which I devised) have been logged and those people asked to alter their Will to favour a person rather than the party, then that is legal. Though the person doing it should be taken to the back of an open sewer somewhere and decapitated.
Whatever the truth of that, there is no escaping the fact that Tony Lecomber clearly believes that a number of bequests have come the way of the BNP, and have managed, somehow, to escape attention. He also strongly hints that those lodging an intention to leave a bequest to the BNP may have been quietly asked to name the beneficiary as Nick Griffin.
We may be missing something here, but isn't it a little odd that Griffin's long-time second in command and close friend has only now noticed the complete absence of bequests over the past seven years? And isn't it even odder that Lecomber, who claims to want the best for Griffin, a man he is still quick to praise, should go about it by adding substantially to the doubts surrounding his honesty?
It is altogether a curious business, but then, Tony Lecomber is a curious and interesting fellow. Why has he, a divisive and toxic figure, as he happily acknowledges, suddenly come up from between the floorboards to inject himself into the current troubles when there is so little apparent need? He is trusted by almost nobody, carries no real weight, has no future in the BNP or with the Reform Group, and can only harm the cause of whichever camp he sides with.
Perhaps we should ask the old lag directly - what is occurring, Tony?