Page last updated at 17:20 GMT, Saturday, 14 March 2009

BNP member attacked with hammer

Tony Ward
Violence broke out in Leigh where a BNP event was being held

A British National Party (BNP) member was attacked with a hammer when protesters arrived at a campaign event in Greater Manchester.

Violence broke out as 30 people surrounded a BNP vehicle outside the Ellesmere Pub in St Helens Road in Leigh on Friday evening, said police.

Tony Ward, 48, was hit with a hammer and later treated in hospital.

A 25-year-old man arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm has since been given police bail.

Officers arrived at the pub to discover the BNP's trailer had been overturned, said a police spokesman.

A traffic diversion was put in place on St Helen's Road, while the trailer was removed and the road was closed. It has since reopened.

One witness told BBC News: "They had hammers and they smacked the vehicle to pieces, smashed all the windows and tore off the bumper, completely decimated it.

"I was shocked at what I saw."

A BNP fundraising event had been due to take place at Pure nightclub in Leigh, but it was cancelled at the last minute.

Simon Darby, the party's deputy leader said: "This was a violent attack by a group of thugs in which one of our members was badly injured.

"But we will not be put off."

The BNP's Nick Griffin has been in the area to host the event, said Mr Darby.

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