School reveals BNP leader's return visit

TEACHERS at a top fee-paying school in Suffolk have admitted there may have been some "embarrassment or annoyance" when a former pupil – who is now the leader of the British National Party – made a return visit.

By Richard Smith

TEACHERS at a top fee-paying school in Suffolk have admitted there may have been some "embarrassment or annoyance" when a former pupil – who is now the leader of the British National Party – made a return visit.

Woodbridge School counts West End actress Robin Weaver, distinguished mathematician Frank Morley and eccentric 18th Century physician Messenger Monsey among its alumni.

However, it was 1970's old boy Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, who returned to the school last month.


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The event merited an article in the school's weekly newsletter. English teacher Mark Mitchels and history teacher Michael Weaver both taught Mr Griffin and are still at the school.

Mr Mitchels wrote: ''The return of an old boy is always an occasion for pleasure, but sometimes it is mixed with a bit of embarrassment or annoyance.

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''Nick was a pupil here in the 1970s, taught by Messrs Mitchels and Weaver amongst others. Neither was keen to hear the words: 'My years in your classes shaped my life'. But he is currently the subject of a biography and a visit was arranged to capture some of the flavour of his time here long ago.

''It was difficult to link his past with his present. He was a delightful pupil, who worked quite hard, was always entertaining and polite, and even laughed at our jokes.

''What the book will say about his years here remains to be seen, but there are two gentlemen of impeccable reputation who hope their names are not in the index.''

Mr Griffin, who was unavailable for comment, first became involved in the British nationalist cause at the age of 15 and he was involved in the 1975 referendum campaign to withdraw Britain from the EEC. He later studied history and law at Cambridge University.

Stephen Cole, Woodbridge School headmaster, said: ''We have links with many of our former pupils and just over two weeks ago we had one of our most successful Old Woodbridgians' weekends with pupils gathering together who were here between l939 and l960. These meetings are an annual occasion in the school diary and a very important date for everyone here and naturally everything is planned well in advance.

''In contrast the appearance of Nick Griffin and his biographer was an unofficial and informal visit to the school which was to allow his biographer to come to Woodbridge to gain a skeletal view of Mr Griffin's short time at the school. During the visit Mr Griffin and his biographer talked to two members of staff who had taught him.''

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