Calls have been made for the leader of the British National Party to step down in a row over a £16,000 debt to a North-East printing firm.
The BNP owes the money to the Newton Press, a community newspaper based in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, for the printing of posters and leaflets during the run-up to last year’s General Election and publication of the party’s Voice of Freedom newspaper.
The company’s owners are now so fed up of waiting for the debt to be paid, they have released emails exchanged between the company and party leader Nick Griffin.
On January 1, last year, Stuart Howarth, print sales manager of the Newton Press, sent an email to several members of the BNP which said: “Still nothing from any of you, unbelievable.”
Six months later, he received a reply from Mr Griffin, which said his party officials were working on the matter. Mr Griffin, MEP for North- West England, wrote in his email: “In the meantime, please accept my most sincere apologies, both personally and organisationally, and assuance (sic) that you will get all your money as soon as possible.”
In August, payment had still not been received and the Newton Press instructed its solicitors to take legal action. The last email from Mr Howarth, on June 30, this year, said: “Anybody paying this bill or do I have to take even more action than I already have?”
Andrew Brons, BNP MEP for North Yorkshire and Humberside, who is challenging Mr Griffin for the leadership, said: “It is wholly unacceptable that honest businessmen, who supplied their services in good faith, are treated in such an appaling manner. This reflects badly not just on the current chairman, under whose watch these abuses of trust have taken place, but on all of us. We are all smeared by association.”
Ken Booth, a BNP member in the North-East, said the debt was the national party’s and was nothing to do with the local members. He said the situation was a disgrace and Mr Griffin should resign. “One of our main passions is local jobs for local people, yet the party can’t even pay a local printer. It makes a farce of our values.”
Clive Jefferson, BNP party treasurer, said: “We will be paying all our outstanding debts. I have a timeline for repayment worked out.”