Page last updated at 05:57 GMT, Sunday, 23 November 2008

BNP members held over leafleting

BNP flag
The 12 men were arrested in the Whitechapel area of the city

Twelve British National Party (BNP) members have been arrested on suspicion of distributing racist material in Liverpool city centre.

Merseyside Police said the men were held at about 1250 GMT after leaflets were distributed in the Whitechapel area of the city.

Roy Goodwin, organiser of the Blackpool and Oldham BNP branches, confirmed 12 party members were arrested.

He said the contents of the leaflets had been "carefully vetted".

The 12 men were later released on bail to appear at a police station early in the New Year.

Police said those arrested were a 29-year-old and a 51-year-old from the south Liverpool area; a 64-year-old from the Wirral; a 19-year-old; a 46-year-old and a 41-year-old from north Liverpool; a 61-year-old and a 42-year-old from Knowsley; a 70-year-old; a 44-year-old; and a 29-year-old and a 48-year-old from St Helens.

'Nothing unlawful'

Mr Goodwin said he understood 12 of his members had been arrested "distributing official party leaflets in Merseyside".

He added: "There was nothing unlawful in the leaflets - all the contents of the leaflets had been carefully vetted, or they would not have gone out."

Merseyside Police Assistant Chief Constable Colin Matthews said: "Merseyside Police condemns racism in all of its forms and will take prompt action to support all of our communities.

"Merseyside Police today arrested 12 people on suspicion of distribution of racist material.

"This follows the distribution of leaflets in Liverpool city centre, which officers believe to contain racist content.

"Racist literature is not welcome on the streets of Merseyside in any circumstances."

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