Page last updated at 16:48 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 17:48 UK

Hundreds turn out for BNP rally

BNP rally
About 300 people turned up for the rally in Fenton

Hundreds of BNP activists have been rallying in Stoke-on-Trent in protest over the conviction of an Asian man who killed a party member.

Habib Khan was jailed for eight years last month after he was found guilty of the manslaughter of Keith Brown.

The BNP believe Khan should have been convicted of murder.

Anti-BNP groups held alternative events including marches and the organisation Love Music Hate Racism held a vigil to coincide with the rally.

Staffordshire Police said the events had passed without incident.

BNP activists spent the morning posting 70,000 leaflets to homes across the city, calling for 'justice for Mr Brown'.

'Tension and problems'

Several members of the party boarded a truck with billboards either side, and loudspeakers on board, to travel around Stoke-on-Trent.

About 300 supporters gathered at about 1500 BST for a rally in a car park off Victoria Road, in Fenton.

BNP leader Nick Griffin was among those who spoke.

Before the rally, Mr Griffin said: "There is a lot of tension and problems in Stoke and places like it with the unfair way in which the establishment regard ethnic trouble.

Habib Khan
Habib Khan was jailed for eight years for the manslaughter of Keith Brown

"If it's a black victim like Stephen Lawrence, then everyone is reminded of it for decades, but if it's a white person like Keith Brown it's forgotten about and that creates a great amount of resentment and that's dangerous.

"Bringing it out into the open and discussing it in a political forum diffuses trouble."

Khan, 50, was convicted in May of the manslaughter of 52-year-old Mr Brown, who he stabbed with a kitchen knife in July 2007.

Stafford Crown Court heard at the time how the two men had been involved in a long-running dispute over land.

'Passed peacefully'

The BNP has nine seats on Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Mick Temple, professor of journalism and politics at Staffordshire University, said the rally gave the area a bad name.

He said: "In the north, Oldham and Burnley for example, there have been a number of violent demonstrations and conflicts over the last decade - that has not been the case in Stoke on Trent.

"In my opinion and the opinion of most people here, despite the BNP's success, the incident in which Habib Khan killed Keith Brown was an isolated racist incident. We have not seen this tension."

Supt Jane Sawyers, of Staffordshire Police, said: "We have policed a number of events in the city.

"They have all passed peacefully."


SEE ALSO
Prison for BNP activist's killer
29 Aug 08 |  Staffordshire

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