July 29, 2011
Posted by John P
The British National Party has again failed to submit its accounts on time in contravention of electoral legislation. This is the fourth time the party faces fines for late accounts and news of it emerged just ten days after Clive Jefferson, the party treasurer, claimed in a document issued in support of Nick Griffin’s campaign to retain the party leadership that criticism of the BNP’s financial position was merely “black propaganda”.
This time, however, the BNP might face more than just the fines of £1,200 it usually pays for submitting accounts nearly six months after the deadline of 7 July. Announcing the absence of the 2010 accounts of the BNP and the Christian Party, the Electoral Commission said it was now “reviewing the circumstances of these cases” and that “late submission of accounts without reasonable excuse is a breach of party funding rules”.
It went on: “The Commission has a range of sanctions enabling it to deal with those who do not comply with the rules. These include issuing substantial fines and serving compliance notices requiring parties to take specific steps by a required date to ensure compliance with their obligations in future; where a party does not comply within the timescale set, they may face additional fines.
“When deciding what sanction is appropriate the Commission considers a range of factors including whether parties have failed to comply with their obligations in the past. Repeated non-compliance is an aggravating factor which can significantly increase the penalties issued.”
A fourth failure in five years, coupled with the fact that the 2009 and 2008 accounts when they did turn up contained material deficiencies, must surely attract the highest sanction.
Peter Wardle, Chief Executive of the Electoral Commission said: “The rules on party funding are intended to ensure that voters can see where political parties get their funding from, and how they spend it. The 2010 statements of accounts which we have published today help to provide transparency about the finances of the larger parties and their organisations, covering the period during which the campaigns for the 2010 UK general and local elections took place.
“The majority of parties and accounting units have complied with the law by submitting their accounts on time. However, despite the guidance and advice we offer to help parties comply with the law, two parties have yet again failed to provide accounts on time. This is not acceptable. We have commenced formal case reviews into the circumstances; if we are satisfied that the rules have been broken and the parties concerned do not have a reasonable excuse, we will use our new powers to impose sanctions in accordance with our published enforcement policy, to ensure future compliance with the law.”
Hypocritically, Jefferson had boasted about the party’s “financial transparency”. In an attempt to show that the BNP’s accounts were reliable, he explained that political parties with a turnover of more than £250,000 must have their accounts audited by an independent firm of chartered accountants before they are submitted to the Electoral Commission where they are “examined in minute detail … to ensure that the highest of standards and financial transparency are met”.
He added: “In previous years, the British National Party has had advice from the Electoral Commission and the Auditors, and, each time we have acted on advice, our system has become more robust and open.”
It is now very clear that the BNP’s accounting systems are far from “robust and open” and that he and the BNP are barefaced liars. Griffin had already secured election as party chairman for four years three days before the Electoral Commission’s announcement. The timing of the BNP’s leadership ballot is unlikely to have been accidental.
When Jefferson’s document and an accompanying Myth Busters leaflet, which claimed the BNP hardly had any debts, were published, we noted their silence on the 2010 accounts and concluded, correctly as it turned out, that it was business as usual for the BNP treasury department.
Jefferson ended his document by stating that the BNP intends “within the next few months” to publish its management accounts in a quarterly report to members and online. If its financial records are in such a dire state that it cannot even produce its annual accounts, Jefferson and the “retired chartered accountant” he says the BNP has employed are unlikely to be able to produce up-to-date management accounts, at least not accurate ones. That would Jefferson’s promise just another lie in support of Griffin’s campaign to stay in post despite all the disasters over which he has presided.
Thanks to Sonia Gable at HOPE not Hate/Searchlight