A judge has ruled a North- East BNP activist is personally liable for unpaid debts following a county court hearing which could have far reaching consequences for the cash-strapped party.
District Judge David Robertson ruled that Adam Walker, of Spennymoor, County Durham, must pay £21,000 out of his own pocket to the party’s former graphic designer, Mark Adrian Collett.
A case brought by Mr Collett against the BNP itself, thought to be £700,000 in debt, was dismissed, but the judgement against Mr Walker could still spell disaster for the party. It paves the way for other creditors to take action against activists, who could be declared bankrupt and therefore barred or even stopped from holding political office at any level.
Durham County Court heard on Monday that Mr Collett, 30, was employed as the extreme far right party’s principal graphic designer and Mr Walker was a senior officer and staff manager.
The BNP was described as an unincorporated association with no corporate identity which left senior officers responsible for contracts.
An agreement was made on September 9, last year, between Mr Collett and both Mr Walker and the BNP, which Mr Collett said had been breached. Mr Collett said he only received £750 from the BNP, instead of the £7,500 he claimed was due at the time and, as a result, said the full amount of £15,750 was now liable.
District Judge Robertson awarded Mr Collett £14,250 plus £7,333.60 costs against Mr Walker, but dismissed Mr Collett’s claim against the party.
The BNP’s money woes were highlighted last year when former chief fundraiser James Downson wrote letters to creditors, seen by The Northern Echo, offering 20 per cent settlements. Mr Dowson told Newton Press, a printing firm in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, which is owed £16,500 for printing its newsletters, that the finances were like a “shipwreck”.
Newton Press confirmed last night that the debt was still outstanding.
Mr Walker, 42, of Winchester Court, Spennymoor, said last night he respected the judge’s decision and would do his utmost to comply with the judgement.
He added: “The contract was signed in good faith as party manager and at that time that was my job. I’m not the treasurer and I don’t decide where the money goes.”
Mr Walker, who represented himself against a barrister and a senior solicitor, said he was grateful the judge dismissed an application for the senior solicitor’s fees.
The former teacher said: “To anybody else in a similar position, I would say they should be very cautious about legal fees.”