Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Saturday, 21 March 2009

'BNP membership' officer sacked

A police constable whose name appeared on a leaked list of British National Party (BNP) members has been sacked, Merseyside Police said.

Pc Steve Bettley's name was on a document listing details of 12,000 people which was published online.

Merseyside Police conducted an investigation into the allegation and concluded he had "knowingly been a member of the BNP".

Mr Bettley denied being a party member and will appeal against his dismissal.

Officers and police staff are banned from joining or promoting the BNP.

'Immediately suspended'

The officer, who was briefly the driver for chief constable Bernard Hogan Howe, had been suspended from duty since the list became public last November.

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said: "A police misconduct panel has dismissed Constable Steve Bettley after concluding he had knowingly been a member of the British National Party from March 2007 and up to March 2008."

Constable Bettley would like to place on record that he condemns racism and does not support the views of the British National Party
Merseyside Police Federation spokesman

Deputy Chief Constable Bernard Lawson added: "As soon as we were made aware that Mr Bettley had been named on a BNP membership list an investigation was instigated and he was immediately suspended.

"We have an overriding legal duty to promote race equality and retain public confidence."

Throughout the inquiry Merseyside Police consulted with the Black Police Association and the Independent Advisory Group.

Ian Leyland, secretary of the Merseyside Police Federation which represented Pc Bettley at the misconduct hearings, said Mr Bettley accepted his name was on the BNP list but he denied being a member of the party.

'Condemns racism'

He said Mr Bettley was enrolled in the party by a family member without his knowledge and he planned to appeal against the dismissal.

"We are disappointed with the finding and sanction of the Misconduct Panel and do not believe that there is any evidence presented to the panel which would indicate that he was knowingly a member of the BNP," Mr Leyland said.

"Consequently the Police Federation believe that their decision that he was a member and can no longer serve with Merseyside Constabulary is flawed.

"The Police Federation will be fully supporting Constable Bettley through the appeals process which includes a Chief Constables Review and Police Appeals Panel.

"Constable Bettley would like to place on record that he condemns racism and does not support the views of the British National Party."

Vinny Tomlinson, chairman of the Merseyside Black Police Association, said he was "satisfied that Pc Stephen Bettley was either a member or supportive of the aims and objectives of the BNP and therefore commend the inevitable decision made by Merseyside Police to dismiss him from service".

Simon Darby, national press officer for the BNP, said Mr Bettley's sacking was "deplorable" and a "disgusting thing to happen".

"We are well on the way to being a totalitarian state," he added.

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