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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 17:14 GMT
BNP jury considers its verdict
Nick Griffin [left] and Mark Collett arrive at court in Leeds
Nick Griffin and Mark Collett are awaiting the court's verdict
The jury in the retrial of British National Party leader Nick Griffin, on race hate charges, has retired to consider its verdict.

Mr Griffin, 47, of Powys, mid Wales, denies using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred.

The charges relate to speeches made in Keighley which were secretly filmed for a BBC documentary on the party in 2004.

Party activist Mark Collett, 24, of Leicestershire, denies four similar charges relating to two other speeches.

Freedom of expression

Summing up at Leeds Crown Court, the Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones QC said the case was not about the political beliefs of the BNP.

He added: "It's not about whether assertions made about Islam are right or wrong. Those are issues to be debated in different arenas.

"We live in a democratic society which jealously protects the rights of its citizens to freedom of expression, to free speech.

"That does not mean it is limited to speaking only the acceptable, popular or politically correct things."

He said it also extended to things which "many people may find unacceptable, unpalatable and sensitive" and that "along with those rights come rights and duties not to abuse them".

'Legal and democratic'

During the trial, the jury heard extracts from a speech Griffin made in the Reservoir Tavern in Keighley, on 19 January 2004, in which he described Islam as a "wicked, vicious faith" and said Muslims were turning Britain into a "multi-racial hell hole".

At the same event, Mr Collett addressed the audience by saying: "Let's show these ethnics the door in 2004."

Giving evidence, Mr Griffin said his speech was not an attack on Asians in general, but on Muslims.

"This isn't a racial thing," he said. "It's not an Asian thing. It's a cultural and religious thing."

He admitted that until the late 1990s "the party, even myself to a certain extent, could be described as racist", but said this was no longer the case.

Mr Collett said his speeches were only intended to motivate party members to take part in "legal and democratic" campaigning.

The case was adjourned until Friday.




SEE ALSO
BNP leader defends views on Islam
08 Nov 06 |  Bradford
BNP and leader 'no longer racist'
07 Nov 06 |  Bradford
BNP speech intended to 'motivate'
06 Nov 06 |  Bradford
BNP leader 'said Islam is wicked'
03 Nov 06 |  Bradford
Rowdy scenes for race hate trial
01 Nov 06 |  Bradford

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