The Equality and Human Rights Commission has challenged the fascist British National Party to address its membership criteria, on the basis that they contravene the Race Relations Act.
The commission, which is headed by Trevor Phillips, believes that the constitution and membership policy of the BNP discriminate on the grounds of race and colour – which stands in direct contradiction to the Act.
The BNP could face a legal injunction if the allegations are proven true.
The party’s membership criteria appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular “ethnic groups” and those whose skin colour is white, according to the commission.
Among the other concerns raised by the commission was the belief that elected representatives of the BNP would not provide equal service to all their constituents on the basis of race or colour, contravening the local authority model code of conduct.
The commission’s legal director John Wadham said: “The commission’s statutory role includes a duty to investigate possible breaches of discrimination law and take action where appropriate.
“The legal advice we have received indicates that the British National Party’s constitution and membership criteria, employment practices and provision of services to constituents and the public may breach discrimination laws which all political parties are legally obliged to uphold.
“We await a response from the BNP to our letter before deciding what further action we may take. Litigation or enforcement action can be avoided by the BNP giving a satisfactory response to our letter,” he added.
The commission has a statutory remit and regularly monitors political parties to assess whether their activities breach equality law or incite racial hatred.
BNP leader Nick Griffin, who was elected MEP for the North West on June 4, defended the party’s rules as “entirely legal” under sections 25 and 26 of the Race Relations Act.
He claimed that the clauses meant “ethnic groups who need special protection such as the English in their own country, who are now second-class citizens” were “entitled to discriminate on that basis and not on the grounds of colour.”
The BNP in its constitution asserts that it represents those of “collective national, environmental, political, racial, folkish, social, cultural, religious and economic interests of the indigenous Anglo-Saxon, Celtic and Norse folk communities of Britain.”