From The Times:
The British National Party may face prosecution after providing accounts to the Electoral Commission that failed to give a “true and fair view” of its financial circumstances.
The far-Right party, which has already been fined for filing its accounts six months late, must produce further details by Friday.
The news comes as figures released by the commission yesterday reveal how the party exaggerated its spending during the European elections, in which it won two seats, including that of Nick Griffin, the party leader.
Mr Griffin has often claimed that the BNP spent more than £500,000 during the campaign. In fact, the party spent much less, £282,843 — only £54,000 more than it did during 2004.
Mr Griffin’s claims had raised eyebrows, —particularly because the party had declared less than £25,000 in donations since January 2008.
Simon Darby, the BNP deputy leader, yesterday blamed bureaucracy for the errors and said the party needed to exaggerate because
if we had said we wanted to spend 10p, it wouldn’t do us any good. ... there’s a bit of hyperbole with politics.He refused to comment further on the discrepancy, saying that it was not a “worthy question”.
The BNP was fined £1,000 for filing its 2008 accounts in December — nearly six months after the original deadline.
Even then, the commission concluded that the accounts were inadequate and requested further information.
In his report, which prefaced the accounts, Mr Griffin blamed poor accounting on changes in the party’s treasury department. He said that the accounts had become too big for one person to manage, and had since been outsourced to a chartered accountant.
He said the changes were made “with the aim of presenting acceptable accounts for the accounting year 2009”. “We recognise that it is not acceptable to present inadequate accounts,” he wrote.
The independent auditor of the accounts concluded that the party’s financial statements did not “give a true and fair view” of its affairs. Silver & Co wrote: “In our opinion it cannot be said that the accounts comply with the requirements of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, as adequate records have not been made available.”
A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: “We have reviewed the statement of accounts and have concerns about them. We have written back to the party requesting additional information. Until we have received that information we cannot say what further action will be taken.”
By Fiona Hamilton