The Equality and Human Rights Commission has today issued county court proceedings against the British National Party in respect of its constitution and membership criteria. The court has set a date of Wednesday 2 September for a hearing for the Commission’s application for an injunction against the BNP.
The Commission sent a letter before action on 22 June to the BNP setting out its concerns about the BNP’s constitution and membership criteria. The BNP has responded saying that it intends to clarify the word ‘white’ on its website. However the Commission believes that the BNP will continue to discriminate against potential or actual members on racial grounds.
The BNP’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. This exclusion is contrary to the Race Relations Act.
The Commission believes the BNP’s constitution and membership criteria are discriminatory and, further, that the continued publication of them on the BNP website is unlawful. It has therefore issued county court proceedings against party leader Nick Griffin and two other officials.
The Commission has decided not to take action on two further grounds set out in its letter before action in the light of the BNP’s commitment to comply with the law.
John Wadham, Group Director, Legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission says: ‘The BNP has said that it is not willing to amend its membership criteria which we believe are discriminatory and unlawful. The Commission has a statutory duty to use our regulatory powers to enforce compliance with the law, so we have today issued county court proceedings against the BNP. However, the party still has an opportunity to resolve this quickly by giving the undertaking on its membership criteria that the Commission requires.’