March 30, 2008

The watchdog that did not bark

Sonia Gable reveals more about the BNP’s dodgy financial dealings and the Electoral Commission’s failure to respond

“No party financial records were shredded. They are held in electronic format, and cannot be shredded,” proclaimed the British National Party after Jon Cruddas MP exposed the party’s dodgy financial dealings in the House of Commons on 18 December.

By 13 February, following the broadcast of the BBC’s File on 4 investigation into the BNP’s finances, the BNP had changed its tune. Said John Walker, the BNP treasurer: “The bag of shredded items produced in the studio to me which the listeners were expected to believe the BBC’s claims, appeared to be in the main, working copies of the print outs of the book keeping software and draft accounts. To suggest I shredded cheques and invoices is ridiculous, why would I destroy invoices, as I would not have paperwork to cover the expenditure as required by the auditor.”

The BNP works on the principle that if one lie is exposed, try another, and hope no one notices the contradiction. Apart from the fact that Walker now admits that the BNP does have non-electronic records, Searchlight’s perusal of the shreds has revealed numerous pieces of original receipts and cheques, clearly identifiable by their various colours, typestyles and handwritten details.

They include numerous references to various family members of Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, which may bolster the allegations from across the political spectrum that Griffin treats the party as his “cash cow”.

Another name that appears on several of the bits of paper is Vanguard Promotions. This is the private printing business in Leeds owned by Mark Collett, the party’s unpopular and incompetent graphic designer and star of the Channel 4 television documentary Young, Nazi and Proud. His imprint appears on many BNP leaflets and many people have questioned the relationship.

Walker was also rather coy about the BNP’s failure to include a donation of £5,315 from Steve Johnson on its return to the Electoral Commission for July to September 2007. “Only one donation for the 3rd quarter of 2007 … was missed,” glossing over the fact that this was 50% of the total number of donations. “It was not reported to my regional treasurer at the time,” he continued, protecting another seriously incompetent BNP officer David Hannam, “and as soon as the Electoral Commission brought this matter to my attention it was duly reported to the satisfaction of the commission”.

Walker does not explain how the Electoral Commission knew about the donation to bring it to his attention before he reported it. Perhaps he does not want to admit that he found out about the omission from Searchlight’s Stop the BNP website.

Reporting a donation late is not the unique preserve of the BNP. The Electoral Commission publishes a list of donations reported in the fourth quarter of 2007 that should have been reported previously. Donations to all three main parties and others are on it, but not Johnson’s, which has simply been added to the BNP’s quarterly list as if it had been reported on time. It is unclear why the BNP receives such apparently preferential treatment from the Electoral Commission.

The BNP reported three donations received in the final three months of 2007, from Sheila Butler, Charles Wentworth and Adam Champneys. Each gave precisely £5,000. Champneys, who has made large donations to the party before, appeared on the BNP’s list of candidates for the South East in the 2004 European election. Butler is new to the donors’ list. It is not known whether she is the same Sheila Butler who made donations to the UK Independence Party in the South West in 2003 and 2004.

The shredded financial records had originated from John Brayshaw, Walker’s predecessor as BNP treasurer. Before resigning he refused to sign off the party accounts because he had not been given access to all the records he wanted to see. He told the Electoral Commission that he had resigned as BNP treasurer “as a number of irregularities had come to light”. Explaining that he had seen Walker and Hannam shredding the documents and been told to burn them, he declared: “I have not seen what the party sent to the commission but do not believe it is a full and accurate set of accounts for the BNP”.

But the Electoral Commission was unconcerned. It took just two weeks to dismiss the matter, without even asking to see his evidence. Its response to him was blunt: “with regard to a breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, we currently have no reason to believe that such a breach has taken place”.

Jon Cruddas MP was similarly unable to persuade the Electoral Commission to take complaints against the BNP seriously. In a letter dated 28 January 2008 the Commission pointed out that the BNP had paid the “appropriate fine of £1,000” for the late submission of its 2006 accounts, in other words end of story. As for the BNP’s attempt to solicit donations from overseas via its front group Civil Liberty, the Commission dismissed the concerns stating that there was not “sufficient evidence to establish that ‘Civil Liberty’ was an organisation of any significant scale, that it raised any substantial funds from any source, or that it passed funds to the British National Party”.

Civil Liberty is not a limited company and has no obligation to make its accounts public. How exactly did the Electoral Commission investigate what funds it had raised? Did the Commission do any more than ask the BNP and/or the BNP officers who ran Civil Liberty, Kenny Smith and Kevin Scott? On this the letter is silent.

“The Commission does however monitor the activities of political parties and associationed [sic] organisations and individuals, and keeps matters under review,” the letter concludes. We are not reassured.



Anonymous said...

Seems to be a State sanctioned stitch-up. Surely it is time now for an enquiry into the running of the so-caled 'independent' Electoral Commission? Heads should roll there. It suggests that Griffin and his henchmen have friendlies there who operate according to State faction wisdom.

Could you tell us how Jon Cruddas, MP, is getting on with his complaint to the Met over the BNP finances?

Anonymous said...

Griffin's time at Oxbridge may have been spent in company of certain eltist semi-masonic fraternities, where frienships and associations would have been formed and developed in later life. Connections through such groups based on frinship. social class and possibily sexual orientations may hold the key as to why Griffin is untouchable and is being used by the State.

Check out 'The Apostles' from Cambridge...

Anonymous said...

Any chance of you guys considering a forum so we can carry on talking about posts that move down the page?

Anonymous said...

I don't know why anyone's surprised that nothing has happened. The BNP enjoys state protection. It's pretty bloody obvious.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the word "Friendlies" comes to mind, thanks to the wonderful insight of the former BNP councillor who was booted out of the party for the terrible 'crime' of helping an Asian family, despite regular assurances from elected bnp members after election time that they will "lawfully serve ALL CONSITITUENTS".

Without libelling anybody, i would love to know who pulls the strings in the electoral commision.

Then we can perhaps allow public-spirited public detectives to examine any evidence of unlawful conflicts of interest.

Anonymous said...

People used to poo-poo the repeated "Griffin is a nark" posts, and yet, it's bloody true.

And yet, those stupid rebels have lost their fight. They are helping Griffinite poodle Bumbrook be elected at the London GLA elections.

Anonymous said...

It's all so clear to me now. Griffin made favour with the state MI5 run Illuminati whilst studying at Cambridge and his in the pockets of Jewish financiers the world over. He is stoking up Islamic tempers so that the Elders of the Church of Ziontology and the Jews, and the Muslims, and the Lizard-Pope and Lizard-Queen of England, will create a New World Order using evangelical-Christian neo-con trade deficit oil companies like Halliburton at Area 51. And is it just a coincidence that there is a face on Mars, whilst Nick Griffin also has a face? There's probably something to do with Nazi UFO's, hollow Earth , Ultima Thule and Atlantis in here somewhere too. Moon landing was fake. And why is the hole in the side of the Pentagon so small? That plane sounded like a missile. It all points to the BNP nark Griffin.

It's all related. There is no denying it.

Antifascist said...

'It's all related. There is no denying it.'

That's me convinced.

Anonymous said...

Wild conspiracy theories are just that...wild.

The 'state' does not have to run the BNP...because it is already run by a selfish thief.

It is in the nature of BNP members to to belong to and run an organisation that is exclusive. If it was mainstream, then they would not feel so special would they?

Just as middle class neurotics on guilt trips gain a sense of power they otherwise would not have by patronising the 'poor' or the 'ethnics', so Mr. talentless ordinary gains a sense of importance by supporting and belonging to the BNP. The same sort of people join the masons, a secretive if not secret society, that gives itself an air of importance bt keepings its rather inane and silly proceedings secret.

If the BNP was to make a true political breakthrough, that would be a disaster for such people. They would either have to leave or actually work at the political process, rather than shout from the fringes.