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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 22:59 GMT 23:59 UK
BNP questioned over US fund-raising
Nick Griffin
Nick Griffin polled 6,500 votes in Oldham West in the election
By Stephen Sackur in Washington

The British National Party (BNP) faces questions about its fund-raising for its campaign during the UK's general election in June.

A civil rights group in the United States has accused an organisation known as the American Friends of the British National Party of raising substantial sums for the BNP's election war chest.

The US Justice Department is considering whether the fund-raising broke US law.

In the UK Labour MPs have asked the Electoral Commission to investigate the affair as British election law bans all but the smallest donations from overseas.

Cheques

Less than a month before the election, the BNP's leader, Nick Griffin, spoke at a series of meetings in the US organised by the American organisation.

Video footage of those meetings acquired by the BBC shows a member of the US group asking for funds.

Many far-right sympathisers in the audience are seen writing cheques or handing over cash, though the individual amounts are not clear.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre, which has studied the group, claims that at least 70,000 was funnelled into BNP coffers from America.

Test

The Law Centre has asked the US Justice Department to launch an inquiry.

And at least two Labour MPs have asked the Electoral Commission to investigate possible infringements of British law.

British electoral law prohibits overseas donations of more than 200 to political parties in the UK.

The BNP acknowledges that it received thousands of pounds in US donations but insists that it has done nothing wrong.

That claim, it seems, is about to be tested on both sides of the Atlantic.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Sackur reports
"The party itself says it has done nothing wrong"
See also:

24 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Tory expelled over BNP row
24 Aug 01 | UK
BNP: A party on the fringe
11 Jul 01 | Wales
Welsh BNP festival 'unwelcome'
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