Publicity director accused of plot to unseat far-right party's leader
BNP leader Nick Griffin and Mark Collett celebrate after a court victory in 2006
The British National Party has been thrown into pre-election chaos after a senior party official was arrested on suspicion of threatening to kill its leader, Nick Griffin.
Mark Collett, its publicity director, has also been accused by party chiefs of attempting to launch a "palace coup" against Mr Griffin.
The far-right party's senior members will hold an emergency meeting tonight at a secret location in the Midlands to discuss the crisis and Mr Griffin's leadership. He has faced criticism from within the party following his showing on the BBC's Question Time.
The bitter infighting has blown up as the BNP prepares its biggest ever general election drive, focusing on Mr Griffin's candidacy in the east London constituency of Barking.
The supposed plot was revealed in a leaked BNP internal document disclosing that Mr Collett had been "relieved of all positions within the party with immediate effect".
Mr Griffin had gone to the police after "serious allegations" came to light affecting the "personal safety" of the BNP leader and James Dowson, its senior fundraiser, the memo said.
The BNP document claimed:
We are able to say that Mark Collett was conspiring with a small clique of other party officials to launch a 'palace coup' against our twice democratically elected party leader, Nick Griffin. In order to create the artificial climate of disillusionment necessary for this to stand any chance of success, lies and unfounded rumours have been spread, and were planned to be spread much further.
The leaked document said there was "extensive circumstantial evidence" of an attempt to sabotage the party's local and national election campaigns, alleging sensitive party information had been leaked to damage its prospects. It also claimed there had been an "ongoing, co-ordinated and sustained hate campaign, feeding lies to certain anti-BNP blog sites".
All in all, we believe we have uncovered the most serious and dangerous threat to this party and its officers that we have ever witnessed.
In 2002, Mr Collett declared his admiration for Adolf Hitler and said he considered Aids a "friendly disease because blacks, drug users and gays have it", when he appeared in a Channel 4 documentary called Young, Nazi and Proud. In 2006, he and Mr Griffin were cleared of race hate charges linked to speeches that they had made before the 2004 local elections.
. . .
Concerns about Mr Griffin's leadership had been growing within the BNP since his criticised performance on Question Time. He has faced internal fire for bowing to demands from the court to amend the party's constitution to admit ethnic minority members, and controversy over his expenses as a Member of the European Parliament.
A spokesman for the anti-fascist group Searchlight said:
Nick Griffin is constantly claiming he is the leader of a moderate, non-violent organisation. It is difficult to see how he can square that assertion with his statement to the police that his own head of publicity has been plotting against him.
By Nigel Morris and Tom Peck
For the complete article from the Independent, please click here.
For a previous HnhNorfolk post on BNP death threats, please click here.