April 02, 2011
BNP chairman may face High Court over bills from Newton Aycliffe firm
Invoices from a North-East firm that are said to be unpaid could see British National Party chairman Nick Griffin brought before the High Court.
A judge has ordered papers be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions after hearing of an alleged breach in election expense rules following last May’s General Election. The case centres on two alleged unpaid invoices, totalling almost £10,000, for the BNP’s Voice of Freedom newspaper printed by Newton Press, based at Aycliffe Business Park, in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham.
Mr Griffin used the material during his failed campaign to be an MP in Barking, London. The invoices were declared as paid on the electoral expenses return. The alleged inaccuracy amounts to an offence under the Represention of the People Act, which contains draconian penalties for breaches of election rules.
The court heard that the invoices were made out by the Newton Press and they cannot now be paid without the court’s permission. The issue came to light after Mr Griffin’s then election agent, Richard Barnbrook, applied for protection against prosecution.
Mr Justice Tugendhat heard that Newton Press contacted Mr Barnbrook in February but the Greater London Authority councillor – who has since quit the BNP – knew nothing of the bills.
Mr Barnbrook said the printers had “asked the police to investigate why they haven’t been paid” and when he contacted Mr Griffin, the BNP chairman promised to arrange payments if Mr Barnbrook returned to the BNP. When the judge asked Mr Barnbrook if his relationship with Mr Griffin was “not particularly good”, he replied: “I think that’s putting it mildly my Lord”.
Mr Justice Tugendhat said he had “no reason to doubt” Mr Barnbrook’s plea that the mistake was “inadvertent” and that there was “no want of good faith” on his part. However, he adjourned the case, saying Mr Griffin, as election candidate, may also have to come to court to seek relief against potential prosecution.
Speaking after Monday’s hearing, a spokesman for Newton Press said last night: “It has got nothing to do with us and it wasn’t our action.”
The Northern Echo