UK: BNP reinstates expelled executive members

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In a humiliating climbdown the British National Party chairman, Nick Griffin, has been forced to retract his expulsion of three key executive members (see Statewatch vol 10, no 5). In September deputy leader Sharron Edwards, her husband and West Midlands regional organiser Stephen, and national treasurer Michael Newland were thrown out of the party for disloyalty after questioning Griffin's expense claims. Their allegations led to claim and counter-claim concerning the BNP's finances and litigation loomed, threatening to expose the groups shady accounting practices both past and present. At a hastily convened meeting earlier this month Griffin was forced to retract his decision; both of the Edwards' were reinstated in their previous positions but Newland rejected any attempt at reconciliation and refused to serve under Griffin. Griffin's u-turn appears to have diffused any immediate threats of litigation, but has reopened old wounds. An immediate consequence saw Sharron Edwards dropped as the BNP's candidate for the West Bromwich by-election in November, where previously she had received a respectable vote for the fascists. Her place was taken by Griffin - he received 794 votes (4% of the total), coming in fourth place and putting an end to the party's recent successes in one of their few strongholds. Griffin's only "consolation" would have been the BNP's performance in Preston, Lancashire - their candidate, Christian Jackson received 229 votes (1%) and came in seventh of eight.

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