BNP leader Nick Griffin is trying to wriggle out of a Belfast employment tribunal because he fears for his safety.
Griffin and other leaders from the far-right group are due to attend a hearing later this month after an employee from their now defunct Belfast call centre took a case. The BNP is being represented by extreme right union Solidarity - run by his best pal and former National Front buddy - Patrick Harrington. Harrington has written to the Tribunal asking for both reporting restrictions and even for the Tribunal to be heard outside Northern Ireland - but both requests were turned down.
Meanwhile the Sunday World has learned that Griffin visited Belfast in May to support his election candidates - just days after he failed to turn up for an earlier Tribunal hearing - citing fears for his safety as the reason.
Amongst the people the BNP leaders are concerned about bumping into are irate business owners who the race hate party have refused to pay. The flailing party, which is currently in the middle of factional struggle, has been besieged by financial woes and acrimony for the last two years which led to it closing its controversial call centre in Dundonald last year, leaving its former employees penniless in the run up to Christmas.
Four call centre staff are owed monies by the party including the wife of a serving PSNI police sergeant, but all but one have shied away from pursuing their monies owed. The rest fear intimidation from both the BNP and angry businesses here.
Last month we reported how Belfast printers ROMAC went to the wall after being owed over £40,000 by the BNP.
The pursuit of monies owed by some businesses here took a sinister turn when the families of senior BNP members were allegedly visited by “Ulster heavies” in a desperate search for cash. Nine people in Belfast and two in England were arrested on suspicion of blackmail but charges were later dropped.
Local cops are now believed to be investigating an allegation of false imprisonment against some BNP members after they allegedly sent their heavies to hold one former employee against her will in a desperate bid to retrieve evidence of their spiralling out of control accounts. English police are currently also investigating claims that the BNP submitted fraudulent accounts last year after their electoral demise.
So acute and humiliating are the BNP's financial difficulties, that an English judge recently gave leave to one individual to recoup monies owed against BNP officials directly after a ruling that individual representatives' of the party could be held liable for the BNP's unpaid debts. Bailiffs even turned up at the farmhouse of BNP leader Nick Griffin to recoup one debt, taking away his beloved Skoda motor car to the delight of antiracist and antifascist campaigners.
“As a rule we do not have much time or sympathy with businesses that trade with fascists,” said Simon Cressy from the antifascist organisation Hope Not Hate. “However, in this case we would urge all local businesses that are owed monies by the BNP to try and recoup the money they are owed from local BNP officials.
“When they stood in the elections here earlier this year, the BNP claimed to be representing the interests of local people like they really cared. Perhaps they should cough up by way of an apology.”
Tomorrow night the BBC's current affairs show Panorama will air a programme that is expected to throw more light on the BNP's dodgy dealings and financial mismanagement.
Last week the party's thirty year old former treasurer died in suspicious circumstances, which the BNP tried to portray as a suicide linked to the BNP's investigation of the BNP's financial affairs. It is believed that David Hannam who used to work in the party's Belfast office, succumbed to a heart attack brought on by excessive use of anti-depressants.
Hannam's death caused a number of BNP officers to quit the party in disgust at the BNP's reaction to his passing. Describing the BNP's reaction as an “abuse”, one former official accused the BNP leadership of preparing to use the dead man as a scapegoat for their alleged corruption.
Another former treasurer is expected to shed light on up to £300,000 of missing party funds in the programme.
The party's former financial guru, Belfast based businessman Jim Dowson is expected to claim that the party owes him in excess of £160,000 for servicing the party's call centre.
Dowson claims to have severed links with the party when he became aware that they were not paying their bills. He is believed to supporting the claim by a former employee that they were unfairly dismissed without due process.
Harrington refused to comment as to whether the BNP would be attending any hearing at first telling us that the case had gone to arbitration which it had not. He then told us that any further comment would be in contempt of court.
Sunday World via Hope not hate