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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 14:46 GMT
'Public interest' issues of BNP
Nick Griffin (PA/John Giles)
Mr Griffin denies four race hate charges
BNP leader Nick Griffin was trying to tackle "sensitive issues" in his speeches, Leeds Crown Court has heard.

Timothy King QC said in his closing address that freedom of speech was "fundamental to a democratic society".

Mr Griffin, 46, and fellow party activist Mark Collett, 24, deny race hate charges arising from speeches made in West Yorkshire.

Mr King, defending, told the jury that freedom "only to speak inoffensively is not worth having".

'Unjustified prosecution'

The six speeches, which were made in Keighley, Morley and Pudsey, were filmed by an undercover journalist as part of a BBC documentary on the BNP called The Secret Agent.

Mr King urged the jury to consider each speech as a whole and said that when that was done the case was an "unjustified prosecution".

He said: "The British National Party is a legal, political entity. It has a right in a democratic society to put forward ideas and policies which some might find uncomfortable and some might find even offensive.

""There has been a tendency in this case to over-analyse speeches, to take one line here and one line there.

"You have got to look at the overall impact of these speeches - remember the context of each speech."

He said the jurors might disagree with Mr Griffin's ideas but they were a "legitimate point of view".

He said that Mr Griffin never intended to broadcast his views to a mass audience and was unaware that the undercover footage was being taken.

Mr Griffin, of Llanerfyl, Powys, denies two charges of using words or behaviour intended to stir up racial hatred and two alternative charges of using words or behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred.

Mr Collett, of Swithland Lane, Rothley, Leicestershire, denies eight similar charges.

The trial is continuing.

Evidence given by Nick Griffin at his trial in Leeds

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