Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 17:57 UK

BNP must change rules - Griffin

Nick Griffin
Mr Griffin said his party would defend its "core principles"

BNP leader Nick Griffin says the party must redraft its rules on the ethnicity of members to avoid an expensive court case he claims could destroy it.

In an e-mail to supporters, he said the party had to "adapt or die".

But he also vowed to find a form of words to continue limiting membership to "indigenous" British people.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is taking the BNP to court over its constitution, which it says breaks the Race Relations Act.

The EHRC said it had not been informed of any move to change the party's constitution, which it argues is discriminatory.

'Despicable'

Its legal action, made against Mr Griffin and two party officials, was adjourned for seven weeks at a County Court hearing in London on Wednesday.

Judge Paul Collins ordered the BNP to pay the costs of the hearing, after it emerged the party had only briefed a barrister at the last minute, despite knowing about the possibility of legal action since June.

The EHRC accused the party of appearing "to be doing everything to avoid the course of justice".

But in an email to supporters after the case, Mr Griffin describes the EHRC's action as "cynical and despicable" and a "waste of public money".

Adapt or die is the only decision left to make, for failure to adapt would lead either to our being bled white through the courts or crushed by new criminal laws
Nick Griffen, BNP leader

He adds that there is a further threat to the party's membership rules from the government's Equality Bill, which has yet to pass through Parliament.

Mr Griffin warns that this will "ban ethnically defined parties anyway", meaning, he added, that the EHRC's action is pointless.

He says fighting the court case is costing the BNP too much and that attending another hearing would mean "raising and risking at least £80,000".

Mr Griffin tells members a better course of action would be to spend £20,000 employing "top lawyers" to redraft the party's constitution "so as to ensure we comply with the new law while at the same time holding true to our core principles - to secure a future for the true children of our islands."

He says: "By taking this as far as a court hearing, we have ensured that party unity will be maintained, because whatever steps we take, it is now crystal clear to all concerned that we simply do not have a choice but to change our membership policy.

"Adapt or die is the only decision left to make, for failure to adapt would lead either to our being bled white through the courts or crushed by new criminal laws."

And he threatens a future legal battle against "Trevor Phillips [head of the EHCR] and the rest of the 'curs'", but does not specify what it will be about.

An EHRC spokesman said: "We have had no formal indication from the BNP that it intends to comply with our requirements and change its membership criteria so that it is no longer in breach of the Race Relations Act.

"We will therefore continue to work towards the date set by the court for the hearing."



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