“I have declared long and loud that Nick Griffin should attempt to answer my criticisms. Now that he is on his recess from the European Parliament I have found that he has, so I feel compelled to respond. Unsurprisingly, instead of reactivating his Eddy Butler Exposed blog, he has chosen to post this article in defence of his chairmanship on the main party website. We will have to get used to him doing that.
The article is entitled: ‘Anti-BNP Court Cases: Does Anyone Really Believe They’re Accidental?’
I certainly don’t believe they are accidental. They are the result of gross incompetence.
The article may be found here:
Nick Griffin begins his long article with the usual claim that anyone who criticises his actions is a Searchlight agent indulging in black propaganda in order to help the English Defence League become a political party, a typically cranky theory that would only appeal to conspiracy theory nuts.
He continues: “One of these people’s lines of attack at present is the allegation that I have recklessly involved the party in a string of ‘unnecessary’ court cases.”
Mr Griffin is referring to me. He attempts to prove me wrong by reviewing the cases. So let’s scrutinise Mr Griffin’s counter evidence.
EQUALITY COMMISSION CASE
“This case was… rushed into court even though we clearly signalled our willingness to discuss the issues they had raised in their pre-action letter and to seek a negotiated settlement.”
No member of the party appeared at the first two hearings. The judge openly mocked us for our tardiness and lack of preparedness. We responded aggressively to their letter and repeatedly said in public that we would fight them, not negotiate. Did he imagine that the Equalities Commission would take their time to be kind to him? This is a fantasy statement from Mr Griffin.
“We changed our constitution to remove the grounds they had for their direct discrimination claim.
Had this been done any way other than at legal gunpoint, if we had simply surrendered, the issue would have split the party. But I steered a course which took things to the wire but preserved our unity.”
Absolute rubbish. He took it well beyond the wire. We were supposed to report back within three months by holding our EGM before the end of January. We held it in mid February and reported back at the beginning of March.
We had worked out a sensible method of changing the constitution with safeguards against swamping, with the direct discrimination removed and with the potentially indirectly discriminatory sections in the ‘Statement of Principals’ removed. This draft was agreed at a constitutional working party meeting held on 25th September in Nuneaton. We could have held an immediate Voting Members meeting to rubber stamp this, but Nick Griffin delayed until the November conference and then unveiled totally new ideas that were confused, cranky and frankly embarrassing.
No one would have objected to the changes discussed at the 25th September meeting at which people from all tendencies of the party were represented. There would have been no split – that is a fantasy to excuse Nick Griffin’s dictator’s charter and the waste of £300,000 of our money for which he must bear personal responsibility.
The only objection was that a sensible revision would not have dramatically increased Nick Griffin’s personal power which is why he took us to the brink with his massively costly 92 pages of nonsense. We would also have avoided the indirect discrimination line of attack. We had anticipated that they might do this at the September meeting, where we proposed to remove some clearly indirectly discriminatory passages in the ‘Statement of Principals’. We anticipated that they would be objected to even though, in the old constitution, party policy could not be contrary to the ‘Statement of Principals’, but agreement with them was not specifically a condition of membership. Under Nick Griffin’s new constitution, agreement to these principals was made a condition of membership. It can be seen that Nick Griffin was personally directly responsible for the indirect discrimination line of attack upon us.
Hence, when he says that the indirect discrimination attack “is one that was not seen coming by any of those now trying to advance their own secret agenda by calling this case ‘unnecessary”, he is being untruthful.
Make no mistake, the entire, ruinously expensive Equalities Commission farce was his fault. He could have put up some resistance, looked at the constitution and sensibly changed it back in October or November 2009. We would have had to make a couple of court appearances which may have cost us about £20,000 at the very most.
Instead, we are still involved in legal wrangles. He absurdly still tries to claim that we can ‘turn on a sixpence’. We are turning on tens of thousands of pounds of wasted money. We are back in court, fighting them off again as this wretched constitution just gets us into trouble time and again. It is time that Nick Griffin faced up to his responsibilities and accepted that he is at fault for this potentially fatal attack upon our party.
Nick Griffin concludes his piece on the Equalities Commission with this passage which demonstrates that he has totally lost his touch: “every time we’re dragged back into court, we get a further wave of publicity in which the public see us as the victim of politically correct establishment bullying. Long-term, that is publicity and positioning that no amount of money could ever buy.”
If Nick Griffin thinks our being in court, repeatedly portrayed as intransigently racist, will do us any favours with the wider public, then he is sadly misguided. Whatever one’s private opinion might be, if Nick Griffin thinks this will win us new friends and influence people in our direction, then he is dreadfully out of touch.
CASE AGAINST KENNY SMITH, STEVE BLAKE AND IAN DAWSON
Griffin clouds the issue by implying this is all about Sadie Graham and Matt Single. It isn’t. The simple point at issue here is, are we likely to win the case when it comes to court in November? That is all that matters to us, the members, as it is we who have to pay – not Mr Griffin. If we are not likely to win then we must settle or the costs could treble. From what I know of this case, we are likely to lose. This means the law is on their side and we have acted improperly. I say we, I really mean Nick Griffin.
Incidentally, Nick Griffin slyly mentions that he sent me to negotiate with them, implying that I didn’t try too hard. I did go to negotiate with them. I put myself forward to do this in a last gasp effort to head off a bigger problem. I did not succeed, which isn’t surprising given the way Nick Griffin behaved when this spat started, in sending people to raid their houses. I am not a miracle worker. When he behaves outrageously like that it is very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle.
Nick Griffin starts off here by saying “it has not even been a “court case” in the traditional sense.”
This was a very untraditional court case then, yes?
Marmite is a niche market product. The adverts were mainly on the internet. No one ‘got’ what they were about. The BNP did nothing before the ‘spoof’ broadcast was put on our website to bring it to Unilever’s attention.
To justify their folly in doing this, Nick Griffin says this, every word of which is nonsense: “This huge campaign posed a clear and present danger to us, both politically and physically, and all attempts to stop it through normal channels came to nothing.”
He goes on: “Unilever’s consequent legal threats produced a gargantuan wave of national and international publicity, shortly before the election, which we could never have dreamt of buying, or of being able to afford to buy.”
The reality is that the issue was mentioned on a couple of news broadcasts for a few seconds. There was no ‘gargantuan wave of publicity’. There were news feeds on it around the world if you specifically looked for them, but virtually no publicity that reached the public’s attention. In publicity terms it was a flop – and a costly flop at that, for which Nick Griffin must bear ultimate responsibility.
I have calculated that the episode will have cost the BNP around £30,000 and I will stand by that estimate. I have not said it will have cost anything like £170,000 so Nick Griffin is setting up a man of straw to suggest I have.
This was another example of Nick Griffin and Jim Dowson acting in a hasty and improper manner, with me trying to pick up the pieces after they had caused the damage by their rash stupidity. The staff in our Stroud Office complained about the enquiry data that they were receiving from Dowson’s inept Belfast operation. This data was gobbledygook. Everyone knew it. Every Regional Organiser who received it knew it. We all knew that as the Belfast operation was run by the Dowson and Griffin families, it wasn’t worth raising the issue. It would rock the boat for no purpose. That may sound bad but that is the reality.
There was a break down in trust between Belfast and Stroud which turned bad quickly and Nick Griffin sent the boys round to Stroud to clear them out without warning. This caused more bitterness. I offered to go and try and smooth things over. I succeeded with Lee and Donna Hancock who agreed a settlement – not that they parted on good terms, admittedly. Simon Darby met them after I had seen them to pay them off for the sum I had agreed with them. Nick Griffin has repeatedly told an incorrect version in which Simon met them separately first. I repeat, what happened was that Simon Darby saw them afterwards just to pay them the settlement I had agreed with them.
Nick Griffin says that Michaela MacKenzie won her case for wrongful dismissal as she was able to “exploit our lack of experience in such matters”. But Jim Dowson is a business expert, isn’t he? She won because the BNP acted totally improperly from start to finish, as I pointed out to Nick Griffin and Jim Dowson the moment I found out about this sorry episode.
Worryingly Nick Griffin supplies the little bit of information that he has refused a court settlement to pay Michaela MacKenzie by a certain date (which has passed) as he is preparing a counter-claim. Does he never learn his lesson? Double or quits again.
Nick Griffin goes on to make this statement regarding my intention to close down our Belfast operation which is run mainly by family members of the Dowson-Griffin clans: “To break our lease and other contracts… and to sack… staff… really would open up several legal cans of worms.”
No it wouldn’t. Leases are terminated in the business world every day. I have no idea whose name the lease is in incidentally. Is it even in the party’s name? I tend to doubt it. We will find out though, when the time comes. Similarly, staff are dismissed or made redundant, or their jobs are transferred elsewhere all the time. There need be no legal problem so long as things are done in the correct manner. The trouble is, Nick Griffin and Jim Dowson never do things in the correct manner, which is why they find it difficult to imagine a situation where other people would.
Now though, Nick Griffin thinks things will be done properly: “We, however, have learned from this case, which is one reason we have now created a dedicated Human Resources/Staff Management team to ensure that from now on everything is done by the book by people who know all the ropes.”
Let’s just say there are three more ongoing staff cases where they are not doing things ‘by the book’ and potential liabilities are mounting every day against the party as a direct result of sheer incompetence.
Furthermore the ‘team’ to which Nick Griffin refers are also Solidarity union officials. Nick Griffin’s ‘bosses’ team are also supposed to represent the ‘workers’. There is a fundamental conflict of interest here that will reduce any employment tribunal case to a farce.
I have no particular knowledge of the Martin Croucher case and I have never mentioned it so I will not comment here.
I do know about this case as I was responsible for it. It is the one case we have won, saving us at least £17,500. I guess Nick Griffin owes me a vote of thanks. I involved Lee Barnes in the case and liaised closely with him throughout. I have already covered this case in this story:
Yes, the only legal victory that we have achieved in recent times was won as a result of my collaborating with Lee Barnes. I sent him the relevant law, the sections, and gathered the evidence to enable him to mount our defence. Lee did indeed do a very skilful job and he essentially did it for free. I have more confidence in Lee Barnes than in the Nick Griffin’s expensive legal advisors.
Let’s take stock of these cases and see whether they are ‘accidental’.
The Equalities Commission case No 1 – obviously we were being persecuted for our political success in the European Election but in the real world this will happen and we have to make hard headed decisions for the long term good of the party. Once it became apparent that the Equalities Commission and the courts were in earnest, we needed to extricate ourselves as cleanly as possible. We have totally failed to do this. This wasn’t accidental but for different reasons to the other cases.
The Equalities Commission case No 2 – caused by gross stupidity in not properly complying with the judgement in the first Equalities Commission case. Not an accident.
Kenny Smith, Ian Dawson, Steve Blake case – caused by gross stupidity and an irresponsible failure to settle before massive costs are incurred. Not an accident.
Unilever – caused by gross stupidity. Unilever offered to settle for nothing on the basis that we would undertake not to repeat the breach but Nick stuck the legal equivalent of ‘two fingers’ up at them. Not an accident.
Michaela MacKenzie – caused by gross stupidity and failure to comply with employment law. Made worse by Nick Griffin’s failure to pay a legally binding agreed settlement and his current determination to pursue some ‘counter claim’ which will increase our costs. Not an accident.
Martin Croucher – seems to be caused by a mistake on our part. Not an accident.
Greenwich – caused by a cavalier attitude to the law but successfully defended due to my initiative. A great success.
You would have to be peculiarly inept to get into this sort of mess. The explanations given for his disgracefully incompetence are the response of a desperate man. He has put us in imminent danger of being wound up and dissolved as a party. As a Chairman who appropriated for himself supreme power over our party it is time he faced up to his responsibilities. Instead of cravenly saying ‘Not me guv’ he should come clean and admit for once that it is directly his fault and his fault alone.”