Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 03:22:45 +0100
To: [A former BNP local official]
Subject: Skimming & print farming; Brons
The information given by Lee Barnes conforms with information I have been given from numerous other sources over a period of several years.
The ‘skim’ system began when Gri££in gave his young pal Mark Collett the work not only to do the digital graphical origination (i.e.: the typesetting, design and layouts ready for the printer to make his litho plate) of the party’s various leaflets, papers, magazines and booklets, for which the party paid him a fee, but also to set up his own independent graphical origination / printing / publishing enterprise called, I think, “Vanguard Productions”.
Collett could have been kept ‘in house’, that is, he could have been retained as an employee of the party to do its graphical origination work, and paid a suitable salary for that work. By allowing Collett to set up his own independent firm, he could start invoicing the party for his work as if he were just another commercial service provider.
Vanguard Productions (Collett) then was allowed to expand its range of activities by being given permission to become “on paper” the party’s printer in addition to being its source of graphical origination services. Collett obviously did not have a factory filled with printing equipment and skilled printers to do the actual printing, so in effect he was given permission to sub-contract the printing work to genuine printers.
The point is that the order to the genuine printers who did the work did not come from the party — it came from Vanguard Productions (i.e. Collett). The printing, once done, would be delivered by the actual printers to any address or addresses which Collett instructed, but the printers’ invoices would be addressed to Vanguard Productions.
Vanguard Productions would then send its own invoice for the printing to the BNP with a mark-up.
This kind of operation is known in the printing trade as “print farming”. It is perfectly legal — providing all the people involved who are entitled to know what is going on do indeed know what is going on. Genuine printers generally don’t like working for “print farmers” as they have a notorious habit of securing payment from end-user clients, but then delaying or ducking paying the actual printers. Print farmers have a reputation for being serial bankrupts.
In the case of a political party existing on the generosity of subscription and donation paying members, to allow such a “print farming” set-up is wholly unnecessary as it self-evidently adds to the final cost to the membership of the printed product!
You will know that things were not organised in that way by the pre-1983 National Front. The small profit which the party added to the production cost of, say, its election leaflets simply covered essential administrative expenses so that the party did not make a loss on an election operation. Local organisers were fully appraised of all elements which made up the final cost to their branches. But then, before I got the heave-ho in December 1983, I was earning a wage of about £40 a week, so paying individuals was never an NF priority. The NF members and branches “got a bang for their buck”!
Why should head office ‘insiders’ set up within the party a trading monopoly — and, what is more, a secret trading monopoly known only to the ‘insiders’? There can only be one answer to that question: to allow the head office ‘insiders’ to make for themselves a profit on the necessary printing activities of the party in addition to whatever above-board salaries they earn.
In the insurance and other financial service industries, the technique of involving a product in a chain of unnecessary transactions, each with their own separate invoice including a ‘mark-up’, whereby lots of insiders get a ‘skim’ of the final price paid by the unfortunate end-user, is known as “churning”.
So Collett would be allowed to put on his invoices to the party a significant mark-up on the printers’ invoices to him, and the party would pay Collett’s invoices promptly, so that he could pay the printers promptly, on the understanding that Gri££in would get from Collett a ‘kick-back’ or ‘skim’ of the mark-up.
Now all this worked very well until Gri££in came in contact with Jim Dowson. As you know, Dowson runs a business services company whereby for a fee his firm will take over all the administrative work of other businesses: invoicing, statements, accountancy, debt-chasing, data management, advertising promotions via postal and e-mail lists etc. In addition to that, because he is active in the anti-abortion movement in Ireland, he has developed a variety of hard-sell fund-raising techniques using postal and e-mail address data.
Our friend “E.N. Ronn” has calculated that the BNP raised nearly £1 million in 2009, and that about £300,000 of this was paid to Dowson’s enterprise in fees for the various services he provided. Less than 10 per cent of the total turnover that year was spent on political campaigning!
The skim here is that Gri££in allows Dowson to put in huge fees for his services, and Gri££in authorises prompt payment — on the understanding that Gri££in will get an agreed ‘kick-back’. It is to cement this agreement that Gri££in insisted that one of his daughters (the one he wants to take over the party when he retires!) be appointed a director of Dowson’s firm and base herself at Dowson’s office in Belfast, so as to keep an eye on what Dowson was up to and look after her father’s interests.
The Gri££in / Collett arrangement exploded last March / April when Gri££in and Dowson got greedy and decided to outsource to Dowson nearly ALL the party’s various administrative functions, in particular, the PRINTING operation! They drooled over the huge cost of the party general election printing requirements. In a trice, Collett was out in the cold.
That is the reason why Collett made that notorious phone call to David Hannam in which he is said to have made threats against his former patron, Gri££in and also Dowson. Gri££in lodged a complaint with Humberside Police, backing up his allegation with a tape of the Collett / Hannam conversation.
The Police quickly realised that the tape was not the original complete version, but an edited version. (This was the version played to a select group of dunderhead officials in a private room during a conference of BNP officials. The dunderheads emerged from the private room to proclaimed to the conference that the tape verified Gri££in’s allegations against Collett.)
The Police requested Gri££in provide the original complete tape. He was unable to do this as the complete tape would provide the Police with evidence to consider prosecutions against him! So the Police released Collett without any charge. Tony Hancock believes that Gri££in has paid Collett off to keep him silent. Both could expect legal trouble if the truth about their former arrangement came out.
The media have allowed this Gri££in / Collett matter to drop. Why? They didn’t let MPs involved in bogus expenses claims off so lightly.
Gri££in really did think he was in with a chance of winning a Dagenham and that Barking BNP would not only retain all their seats on the Borough Council but also add to them to become the governing party. He believed the BNP would see an even bigger splurge of media publicity than was seen after the EU elections of last year, which prompted an unprecedented surge of income. This was Hubris. As you know, Nemesis always follows Hubris.
The perceived failure of the BNP in the general election and council elections, became all mixed up with the stench of financial corruption and a growing welter of factional divisions. The party has huge debts, not least in the area of legal actions. Only ONE of these (the EHRC’s action) can be said to be ‘state’ sponsored. There are big bills for a variety of other cases brought on solely by Gri££in’s stupidity and arrogance. In addition to these legal bills, there are all sorts of other debts. Gri££in has admitted to £500,000 worth of debts. I think this may be a significant underestimate.
In this atmosphere, it is hardly to be wondered at that the donations machine operated by Dowson has run out of steam. “Donation fatigue” has merged into widespread disillusionment. Unless some ‘Sugar Daddy’ comes along, then I think it is going to be all these mounting debts plus the party’s failure to present proper accounts to the Electoral Commission (and, for all I know, to the taxation and PAYE authorities ) that will subject the party to a slow strangulation.
If the party goes bankrupt, then its individual members could face a “joint and several” liability before the courts.
As to Brons, he was a lecturer in Law. If he didn’t have some suspicion that all was not right with Gri££in and his inner circle before he got elected with Gri££in to the EU Parliament (and he should have had!) then having been brought in close proximity to Gri££in after getting elected and having some of his EU funds mixed up with Gri££in’s to pay for support staff, then he should have been smelling stinking fish for quite some months. But he has kept his trap shut, other than to say that he will not stand again at the next EU election.
As to my opinion of Brons, I expressed this fully in an e-mail sent on 27th April this year to a Yorkshire BNP member who had earlier claimed to me that he had some contact with Brons and who had suggested that Brons might be the man to lead the BNP. Below is a shortened version of my reply to him:
“…..some months ago you sought to sell the virtues you think are possessed by this man [Andrew Brons]. Your text even hinted that Brons would be a fit and proper person to rescue the reputation of the BNP if as and when Gri££in departed from it. Both were elected as members of the European Parliament in June last year.
“I have had direct personal experience of Brons’ probity in office when in 1983, as Chairman of the National Front, he encouraged, facilitated and, finally, openly joined Gri££in, Joe Pearce, Ian Anderson and sundry others then on the NF National Directorate to act in flagrant disregard of the party’s constitution in order to mount an unlawful ‘coup’ which removed me from the party I had served faithfully, for pocket-money wages, since 1969.
“I was out of the door with one week’s wages in my pocket (after 14 years service!) and robbed of £1,250 of private funds (the only cash I had in the world) which I had lodged with the party for safe-keeping (!!!) whilst I was fighting a libel action launched by Peter Hain, then head of Anti Nazi League.
“These people even reneged on a Directorate decision to pay the £850 fine I had incurred as a result of being arrested for heckling Home Secretary Willie Whitelaw over the arrest and imprisonment of Young National Front leader Joe Pearce.
“So you see the financial corruption discussed in the below Searchlight article did not begin with last year’s translation of Gri££in and Brons to the EU parliament. Their behaviour patterns were well-established 26 years earlier.
“My companion, Mike, was likewise summarily dismissed. He, it may be noted, had been urged by Brons, whilst on a weekend social visit to Brons’ home a few years earlier, to give up his career with the civil service and join the party’s full-time staff to earn pittance wages, which he did willingly because he thought highly of Brons. Since that betrayal he has had nothing further to do with the nationalist cause. Forget the treatment accorded to me; the treatment of Mike is all the clue you need as to Brons’ shabby character.
“Brons, Gri££in, Pearce, Anderson & Co’s conduct in December 1983 was denounced by a High Court judge Mr. Justice Scott (now a Lord Justice of Appeal) as ‘contrary to the party’s constitution and unlawful. It was certainly disgraceful behaviour’. He awarded me a range of injunctions and Costs ….. but that verdict, due to the slowness of High Court litigation, came months too late to do me or the NF any good.
“In the face of such an admonition from a High Court judge, the chairman of any other association – from political party to bowls club – would have resigned his post in shame, but not Brons (who had a day job as a college law lecturer!).
“Brons did resign a year or so later, but not on a point of honour or principle, but simply because he could detect that the ship of which he was captain was sinking. Yes, ‘Captain’ Brons was the first, not the last, of that horrid crew to abandon ship.
“From these facts it can been seen that Brons behaved improperly to the point of dishonesty as NF Chairman in the period immediately before I was ousted from the party. Thereafter, when it became evident to him that he had helped the loonies take over the asylum, instead of doing his duty by making an effort to restore order and constitutional conduct, he abandoned the party to its fate and slunk away in the manner of a coward.
“The final collapse of the authentic NF can only be laid at the door of one man: Andrew Brons, the man who you have suggested is capable of rescuing the BNP from the financial squalor into which it is being pulled by Gri££in.
“That man is no more capable to saving the the BNP from Gri££in and his current cronies than he was capable of saving the NF from Gri££in and his then cronies in 1983. He’ll go with the flow and then when things go bad he’ll tip-toe as fast as he can out of the back door.
“I’m sorry if you find my account disillusioning, but you have a whole lot more disillusionment to come. The sooner you ‘get real’, the less pain you will feel.”
I hope all the above covers the areas of information of concern to you.”