Church leaders in South Derbyshire have joined forces to condemn the British National Party (BNP) ahead of its annual conference being held at a secret location in the district at the weekend.
The political party is staging the event from December 10 to 12 at an as yet undisclosed, ‘firstclass venue’ in the area. Despite widespread speculation circulating in the area, details about the exact location remain unconfirmed, with the BNP refusing to disclose its choice of venue for ‘security reasons’.
In a letter sent to the Mail leaders of eight churches in the area have signed a joint declaration to make it clear they are having nothing to do with the conference and do not support the party’s actions in any way.
The letter states: “We reject their claim to speak for Christians, as an affront to our beliefs and a danger to the unity of our whole community. We wish to affirm our belief that all human beings are created equal and to encourage everyone to join with us in working to build a society where that is fundamental.”
The letter was signed by Rev Jane Webb, chairman of Churches Together in Gresley, Swadlincote and
District, Major Anthony Clifton from the Salvation Army, Rev David Horsfall for Swadlincote parish, Rev Ian Hunter, Rector for Hartshorne and Bretby parishes, Rev David Perrett, vicar of Church Gresley parish, Rev Lesley de Pomerai, vicar for Walton on Trent, Linton and Castle Gresley, Croxhall and Rosliston parishes, along with Rev Sue Rolls, Superintendent Minister for Methodist Circuit, and Teresa Tilley, the leader of Gresley Mission Room.
John Ryde, a spokesman for the British National Party East Midlands region, who refused to reveal the exact location — but confirmed it will be held in the area, said: “We respect the views of these church leaders, but then again, I want to ask them to respect our views and opinions which is what Christians are supposed to do any way.”
The event was described in a letter, posted on the BNP website to ‘fellow patriots’ by leader Nick Griffin, as ‘a spectacular combination of political speeches, audio-visual displays, training, policy debates, stalls and entertainment, all within a four-star venue complete with restaurant, bar and a whole range of suitable accommodation to fit your needs’.
A spokesman for Derbyshire Police said: “We are not aware of the conference venue at this time and we are still trying to engage with the BNP to find out if it will be taking place in South Derbyshire.”