February 29, 2008
Language school run by Italian fascist leader
•BNP leader Nick Griffin's parents do the accounts
•Students from Africa and far east at London college
A popular language college in London is controlled by the leader of an Italian neo-fascist party who has links to the British National Party, the Guardian has learned
CL English Language, a college in west London that teaches hundreds of foreign students each year, is controlled by Roberto Fiore, leader of Forza Nuova, an extreme right-wing party. Fiore, who once said he was happy to be described as a neo-fascist and who is an old friend and mentor of Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP, was appointed as a director of the college more than two years ago and became sole director in August last year. [Fiore had control of the College of that name based at 170 Westminister Bridge Road. In fact the building was used at least a couple of times as the venue for Fiore's International Fascist gatherings.]
Many of the students, who pay up to £30 an hour for tuition, are Italian, while others are from Africa, the far east and eastern Europe. None of those interviewed outside the college last week were aware of Fiore's involvement. Staff at the college have said there are usually more than 100 students there at any one time. Despite its size, however, its latest accounts show that it recorded a profit of just £2,214 during 2006, and £1,821 the year before. [Emphasis mine].
The accountants for the college are Edgar and Jean Griffin, Nick Griffin's parents, who live in Welshpool, Powys. Edgar Griffin confirmed that the language school was a "substantial business", but declined to say why its reported profits were so small. "You must know that an accountant can't talk about his client's affairs to anyone, leave alone a newspaper," he said.
The BNP's spokesman and deputy leader, Simon Darby, denied the party received funds from the school. Asked about the party's relationship with Fiore he said: "If I did know I wouldn't tell you. I know that he knows Nick [Griffin]. I have never met the man." Fiore and his lawyer have repeatedly declined to answer questions about CL English, or about his relationship with Griffin and his parents. The college principal declined to comment on the college finances, but said: "There is nothing illegal going on."
Fiore arrived in Britain in October 1980 as a 21-year-old fugitive from the Italian police, who wanted to question him about the Bologna train station bombing two months earlier in which 85 people [including two Britons] were killed and more than 200 injured.
He was reputed to be a member of the extreme right-wing organisation the Armed Revolutionary Nuclei, several of whose members were subsequently convicted of mass murder. After being arrested by Scotland Yard officers the following year, Fiore was brought before Bow Street court, but the authorities in Rome failed to secure his extradition.
Fiore settled in London and became friendly with Griffin; the two are reported to have shared a flat and are also said to have run a travel agency together.
In Rome, meanwhile, he was cleared of involvement in the bombing, but was convicted of subversive association and jailed for [sic, sentenced in absentia to] nine years, reduced to five-and-a-half on appeal. The jail term was eventually "timed out" under Italy's statute of limitation laws, and Fiore was able to return to his homeland in April 1999.
He had already founded Forza Nuova, an anti-immigration party committed to revoking laws that ban the recreation of the fascist party. A year after his return he was quoted as saying: "If you call me a neo-fascist I won't kick up a fuss."