Court date set for Equality Human Rights Commission proceedings against the BNP

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have started proceedings against the BNP over their constitution and membership criteria.  Earlier this summer the EHRC had written to the far right party stating their concerns over The BNP's membership criteria. The BNP appear to restrict membership to those within what the BNP regards as particular 'ethnic groups' and those whose skin colour is white.

The BNP had responded by stating it intended to clarify the word “white” in an effort to deflect the issue. Despite this the EHRC were not convinced that the organisation would not discriminate potential members or employees while the criteria are in place (And published on their website) and proceeded to initiate court action.

Also in the letter written to the party back in June 22nd the Equality and Human Rights Commission had expressed similar concerns on two other points, firstly that the party or its employees may discriminate against its constituents, secondly the party’s policy of only recruiting party members. The BNP responded by stating that it intended to fulfil its legal obligations in both these areas. The EHRC subsequently decided not to challenge the party on these potentially controversial grounds.

The court has set a date of Wednesday 2nd September for a hearing for the Commission’s application for an injunction against the BNP. The right wing political organisation has responded angrily by saying that the action as clearly politically motivated, as its membership rules had been in place for quite a long time.

John Wadham, Group Director, Legal at the Equality and Human Rights Commission said: '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.'

Commenting on the legal proceedings issued today against the BNP, Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman said:

 "No party should be allowed to have an apartheid constitution in 21st Century Britain. I welcome the action. The Equality Bill will make the law even stronger and clearer."

Posted by

Asif Yusuf



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