The Times by Fiona Hamilton | Saturday, 13 February 2010 | Click here for original article
The British National Party’s financial accounts are under investigation by the Electoral Commission over an alleged breach of the law.
The commission said yesterday there were a “number of concerns” and that the far-right party’s latest accounts were “under review”. The investigation concerns a suspected breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, which requires all party treasurers to file full and accurate accounts each year.
The revelations come as Margaret Hodge, the Labour incumbent in Barking, East London, has threatened the party with legal action over campaign material. And the moves cast doubt on the credibility of the BNP at a time when Nick Griffin, its leader, is trying to persuade voters that he is a serious alternative to mainstream politicians at the general election.
The BNP has already been fined over its failure to produce its accounts on time and was recently exposed for exaggerating its spending during last year’s European elections.
It is also facing court action by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over its policy of excluding ethnic minorities from membership. Its membership meets tomorrow to discuss changes to its constitution.
The commission’s investigation relates to accounts for 2008, which the BNP filed six months late. The party was asked to provide more information last month but it is understood that the extra information was unsatisfactory and the party has still failed to meet the requirements of the Act.
Penalties for giving inaccurate or incomplete informationinclude prosecution, with a maximum penalty of a £5,000 or one year imprisonment.
John Walker, a BNP spokesman, said: “We’re not the only party to have problems with finances.”