BNP leader freed on bail

By Jonathan BarnesTHE leader of the British National Party was released on bail last night after being arrested by police investigating the extent of racism in the organisation.

By Jonathan Barnes

THE leader of the British National Party was released on bail last night after being arrested by police investigating the extent of racism in the organisation.

Nick Griffin, 45, who grew up in Suffolk, was arrested yesterday morning by West Yorkshire Police on suspicion of incitement to commit racial hatred.

The arrest came as part of an investigation into the BBC programme Secret Agent, which was screened in July.

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West Yorkshire Police said that as part of the same investigation three Bradford men aged 29, 33 and 23 had been charged with racially-aggravated intentional harassment and would appear before Leeds magistrates tomorrow.

The documentary featured covertly-filmed footage showing British National Party (BNP) activists confessing to race-hate crimes.

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It also featured father-of-four Mr Griffin, chairman of the BNP since 1999, condemning Islam as a “vicious, wicked faith”.

A BNP statement said four non-uniformed police officers had called at the Griffin family's farmhouse in mid-Wales at 7am yesterday and arrested the party leader.

It added the arrests of party members over the past few days were “a deliberate attempt to disrupt the operation of the only political party in the UK that is a genuine opposition to the Blairite regime”.

The statement also claimed one of Mr Griffin's daughters had suffered a “violent asthma attack”, allegedly brought on by the stress of her father's arrest.

On July 15, when the BBC documentary was screened, Mr Griffin accused the programme-makers of selectively editing the speech he was seen delivering and challenged the authorities to prosecute him.

“If Home Secretary David Blunkett wants to put me on a show trial about whether we're entitled to warn about the dangers of Islam, I will be absolutely delighted,” he said.

Mr Griffin grew up in Huntingfield, near Halesworth, and was educated at Woodbridge School, where he made a return visit earlier this year for a reunion.

He got involved in politics at the age of 15 after his father, Edgar Griffin, took him to meetings of the National Front. Edgar Griffin is a former Conservative Waveney district councillor who represented Halesworth on the authority.

Mr Griffin's mother, Jean, stood for election against Iain Duncan Smith as a BNP candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green in 2001.

The arrest of Mr Griffin was the 12th in connection with the investigation into the BBC documentary.

The BNP's founding chairman, John Tyndall, 70, from Brighton, was also arrested on suspicion of incitement to commit racial hatred on Sunday following a speech he made in Burnley in March.

Mr Tyndall, a former chairman of the National Front, was released on police bail on Monday pending further inquiries.

A joint statement issued last night by West Yorkshire Police and the Crown Prosecution Service said that nine men who had been arrested earlier this year in connection with the Secret Agent programme had answered their bail in the morning.

It added there was insufficient evidence to prosecute six of the nine people who had initially been arrested, but the other three had been charged.

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