Five UAF arrested for throwing fireworks at BNP stallNOVEMBER 2010: Nick Griffin has now received a reply to his letter to Merseyside Police concerning intimidation of British National Party campaigners in Liverpool.
Chief Constable Jon Murphy wrote:
Dear Mr. Griffin,
Further to your letter dated the 11th October 2010 and our acknowledgement dated the 21st October 2010, I would like to provide you with the following response in relation to the questions you raised.
Firstly, I am able to confirm that on Saturday 2nd October 2010, representatives of both the British National Party and United Against Fascism were campaigning in Liverpool City Centre.
A period of approximately six hours passed without incident and the police facilitated the lawful political campaigning by both groups. Unfortunately at about 6pm the same day, a flash point occurred when missiles and fireworks were thrown at representatives of the British National Party. As a result the police were requested to escort British National Party campaigners from the location for their own safety.
I am able to confirm that five arrests were made for a variety of public order related offences.
This was a disappointing outcome to the day and we immediately reviewed our response to the situation. For trie weeks that foiiowed, we increased our resources in relevant locations to prevent any further incidents of this nature. We have also engaged in active dialogue with both parties to ensure that we can, when possible, facilitate both lawful protest and political campaigning.
In addition we have worked closely with all local authorities and partner agencies to ensure the British National Party, as a legal political party can continue to campaign without fear of transgressing any local by laws or environmental legislation.
However it must said that our efforts to police incidents such as this are hindered by receiving very short notice of British National Party intentions to campaign in this area, if in fact we receive any notice at all.
I would very much appreciate it if you would encourage your members to provide us with at least 24 hours notice of any specific locations where they intend to campaign, which will allow us the opportunity to plan accordingly.
This reply was in response to Nick's letter below:
Dear Chief Constable Murphy
Re: Intimidation of British National Party Campaigners: Liverpool
I have been contacted by a number of my constituents, some of whom are campaigners for the British National Party, with regard to the unacceptable intimidation they have been subjected to during the course of their campaigning activities in Liverpool city centre.
On Saturday 2nd October, a small team of British National Party campaigners, who were gathering signatures for a petition calling for the withdrawal of British troops from the war in Afghanistan, were surrounded by an organised and co-ordinated group of political opponents (who term themselves as “antifascists”) and subjected to a relentless, vicious verbal and physical attack. In addition to the campaign team suffering sustained verbal abuse from this group, they were also physically assaulted with objects thrown as missiles, which included eggs, water, bottles, cans and small incendiaries.
The British National Party campaign members report that they, and members of the public who tried to approach them with the intention of signing the petition, felt afraid for their physical safety and were not reassured by the actions of the Merseyside police officers who were present on the day. There was a general consensus, on the part of both the campaign team and the public, that the officers in attendance were unsympathetic toward their safety concerns and generally reluctant to take control of the situation: i.e. by dispersing the aggressive and unruly opponent group and taking direct action against the individuals responsible for the missile throwing and targeted verbal abuse.
I understand that Mr Mike Whitby, the Liverpool British National Party organiser, has already written to Superintendent Bill McWilliam, raising his concerns about the apparent unwillingness of local police officers to intervene effectively to allow the British National Party campaign team to conduct their legitimate political campaigning without harassment, and also to protect the public from intimidation.
Given the seriousness of this attack and the climate of fear and victimisation that such incidents engender amongst individuals exercising their democratic right to freedom of political expression, I would appreciate it if you could provide me with a full report on Merseyside Police’s response to the events of Saturday 2nd October, including whether any arrests were made on the day, and your assessment as to whether sufficient action was taken by officers to deal with the attack.
In order for me to reassure my constituents that Merseyside Police is committed to ensuring the physical safety of all individuals involved in legitimate democratic political activity, and to protecting their democratic right to function free from harassment, I would be grateful if you could also identify what risk management plans will be set in place to avoid a repeat of the events of Saturday 2nd October.
I would be grateful if you could direct your reply to my Wigton Constituency office address.
Nick Griffin, MEP
North West Parliamentary Constituency