HOPE not hate has recently criticised the English Democrats (ED) for allowing dozens of former BNP members to get involved in the party without any public denunciation of their former political allegiances. ED leader Robin Tilbrook has insisted that all those coming over have left their former racist views behind. He even told a recent English Democrat conference: “They [the former BNP members] will help us become an electorally credible party. We need to be sure they ascribe to civic or cultural nationalism and that they will be an asset to our party, but we do not need to be too defensive”.
The most prominent of the former BNP members in the English Democrats is Chris Beverley. Here, HOPE not hate researchers cast an eye on the validity of Beverley's political conversation.
Chris Beverley, the former Yorkshire BNP organiser and councillor has detached himself from all things BNP and extremist, or at least that is what he would like you to believe. In a speech made to the English Democrats conference held last month, Beverley stated “I endorse the EDP’s opposition to extremism. I oppose all forms of extremism.”
Referring to his former membership of the BNP he continued “We all make mistakes in our lives and we all have ideas that we hold that we change over time but I believe and have come to the realisation that the English Democrats' approach to politics is the only hope that our people have."
Some people will welcome Beverley’s rejection of the BNP and extremism in general, however when the surface is scratched we reveal that the mask of respectability is paper thin.
Beverley recently wrote on his blog about a Leeds English Democrat meeting being held in his home town of Morley. He appealed for people to join the party and as the Leeds branch had recently opened a bank account, suggested prospective members send their membership fees and donations there, circumventing the party’s national office in Norwich.
The Leeds address for membership fees and donations is a familiar one. It’s the same PO Box that Beverley has operated for years. For much of the time it was the contact address for Leeds BNP. It appears to have shifted over to the English Democrats with Beverley too.
Further inspection however, shows that this is still the same PO Box that the BNP’s erstwhile MEP Andrew Brons also uses for his European work. If Beverley is so appalled by the politics of the BNP then why does he still work for one of its MEPs? If Beverley’s politics had changed so much then why has a BNP MEP allowed him to continue to work for him? If there is such a wide difference in political attitudes then why do both the English Democrats and the BNP share a PO Box?
To say the least, it is rather unusual to have two supposed rival political parties sharing the same address. But it does not end there. Along with his wife Joanna who is also an ex BNP councillor, Chris Beverley is listed with Joanna to the very same PO Box for something else, this time called “The Morley Community Trust.” The trust is an organisation set up with the intention of enabling local schools to switch to trust status. Both Chris and Joanna Beverley are listed as directors of the trust.
On his blog, Beverley sells a well known right wing book on English nationalism, instructing potential buyers to send their payments made out to “The Morley Community Trust.”
What sort of trust status the Beverley’s envisage for schools in Morley and Leeds remains a mystery. But as part of his conference speech to the English Democrats, Beverley discussed the notion of large numbers of BNP members jumping ship from the BNP to join both he and his wife in the English Democrats. He told the conference “Only a fraction of those people leaving the BNP will be interested in the English Democrats - only a fraction. The good news for us is that it is only the best people in that party that will have any interest in us. The most intelligent, rational, enlightened decent people - that's the good news for us.”
One of Beverley’s ex-BNP companions at the conference was Andrew Kershaw, an ex BNP official from Kirklees. Kershaw, the ex-secretary and treasurer of Yorkshire BNP has a conviction for racially abusing a police officer during a drunken night out several years ago.
Also photographed with Beverley, this time at a recent English Democrat meeting in Bridlington is the ex BNP organiser for the town Gary Pudsey.
Pudsey who has also previously been a National Front, Blood and Honour and Combat 18 activist was arrested along with 15 others in 1994 for their part in an attack on a bookshop in Nottingham which caused £10,000 worth of damage.
Pudsey displays a number of far right tattoos on his forearms. Pudsey has also previously been photographed with Magnus “Max” Wagegg, an unapologetic ex- Luftwaffe pilot and Nazi, who lived in the West Midlands after the war and became a beacon to far right groups including Combat 18, Blood and Honour and the tiny Aryan Resistance Movement who were active in the area.
Perhaps Kershaw and Pudsey are some of the “intelligent, rational, enlightened decent people” that Chris Beverley refers to?
We certainly wouldn’t use the term “enlightened” when we look at some of the European far right links Chris Beverley has.
Fluent in German, Beverley was a regular guest of the German far right political party the NPD. So close was Beverley to the NPD that he wrote a bi monthly column in the NPD’s newspaper “Deutsche Stimme”.
Beverley also has had ties with the European National Front, an umbrella organisation for some of Europe’s most extreme and openly fascist organisations. They include groups that deny the Holocaust, worship Adolf Hitler and other wartime fascist leaders, and have been linked to terrorism.
Beverley spoke at a European National Front meeting in Feb 2007 hosted by the NPD. The meeting, held in Reisa, Germany was organised by the German skinhead leader Jens Puhse, who ran one of Europe’s largest nazi music mail order businesses.
The ENF brings together some of the most hard line anti-Semitic organisations from Europe. They include La Falange (Spain), Noua Dreapta (Romania), Forza Nuova (Italy), Nationale Alliantie (Holland) along with the Nordiska Förbundet (Sweden).
One of Beverley’s closest German friends is Andreas Heine. Heine is a hard-core Neo Nazi originating from Hamburg and was one of leaders of the Hamburger Sturm group, a group linked to the notorious German Neo Nazi Christian Worch and his Aktionsbüro Norddeutschland.
Hamburger Sturm was banned after police suspected the group of issuing death threats against a German trade union leader in April 2000.
Beverley is also a huge admirer of the Hungarian Neo Fascist party Jobbik and has met with various dignitaries from the party including Jobbik MEP Krisztina Morvai. Jobbik has gained notoriety when it formed its own uniformed militia the “Magyar Garda” often compared to the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the National Socialist party that led Hungary for part of World War Two.
His admiration for Jobbik is to such an extent that he gives away free copies of the parties manifesto to anyone prepared to ask for one, via his personal blog. All Beverley asks is that you cover the postage, by sending in stamps to the same Leeds PO Box Beverley uses for the English Democrats.
Thanks to Nick Lowles at Hope not Hate