A Norwich car dealer with a criminal past played a key role in Nick Griffin's controversial Question Time appearance as he acted as a minder for the BNP leader, it has emerged.
Stephen Ames has been named alongside four other men who accompanied Mr Griffin to provide protection from anti-fascist groups who gathered outside Television Centre on Thursday. The group were pictured shielding Mr Griffin as he arrived at the BBC via a back door.
All of those identified have been described as having “shady pasts” with convictions for offences ranging from fraud to posting anti-Muslim comments on the internet.
Mr Ames has a series of convictions for stalking women. In 2001 he was given an 18-month rehabilitation order and made subject to an indefinite restraining order after admitting harassing a former girlfriend over nine months. He was also convicted of harassing two other women in 1999.
Stephen Ames outside court following an appearance before Norwich magistrates in 2001.
Thursday's Question Time appearance provoked angry scenes as protestors breached barriers at Television Centre. According to the Metropolitan Police three were injured, one badly enough to need hospital treatment.
Yesterday 41-year-old Mr Ames, who runs Trident Cars from his home in the north of the city, was unavailable to comment. A man who described himself as a “business associate” answered Mr Ames' mobile telephone and said he was on holiday.
During his 2001 appearance before Norwich Magistrates' Court, prosecutors described how he had “continually pestered” his former partner despite warnings to stay away.
Mr Ames sent her letters, faxes, text messages, e-mails and telephoned her, declaring his love. He also followed her as she drove, sometimes closely and aggressively, and she saw him near her new home after she moved. Chairman Paul Allen told him:
You have probably escaped prison by a whisker.Mr Ames is an active member of Norfolk BNP and has featured on both leaked party membership lists. He escorted Mr Griffin during a 2008 visit to the county. He also campaigned alongside Rev Robert West during the party's unsuccessful bid to win a parliamentary seat in the Norwich North by-election earlier this year.
by BEN KENDALL
(Thanks to Sid Frisby)