The daughter of British National Party (BNP) leader, Nick Griffin, did not attend an employment tribunal taken in Belfast because she is involved in a court case about blackmail involving Northern Ireland paramilitaries.
BNP representative Patrick Harrington made the claim in his final submissions yesterday to the tribunal taken by a former employee who ran the fundraising centre in Dundonald, east Belfast.
Members of the right-wing party attending the hearing were attacked with a firecracker on their way in to the tribunal at Killymeal House in Belfast by demonstrators.
Mr Harrington told the tribunal that he had “tried everything in my power to persuade” Mr Griffin’s daughter, Jennifer Matthys to attend the tribunal.
“But she is intimidated and involved in a court case of blackmail and an attempt to drive her off the road. A court case involving paramilitary connections,” Mr Harrington said.
The tribunal heard how the BNP fundraising centre in Dundonald — described as “a cash cow” — was closed at the end of last year after a major fallout between fundraiser, |Jim Dowson and Nick Griffin.
The centre’s former administrator, Marion Thomas (49) from Comber, Co Down, claims unfair dismissal and denied the party’s claims that she was offered relocation to England.
During the tribunal, Mrs Thomas made a number of dramatic allegations against her former employers, including that she was “held against her will” in a van in Comber on 26 November 2010. She described how she returned computer equipment that contained the BNP database and received £7,500 in cash for Mr Dowson outside Tesco in the town.
Mrs Thomas also accused the current party treasurer, Clive Jefferson, of falsifying invoices last year to show suppliers had been paid within the specified time for the Electoral Commission.
Giving evidence, Mr Jefferson said Mrs Thomas and Mr Dowson had “fabricated” the allegations.
A tribunal decision is expected in four weeks.
Story so far
The BNP was taken to an employment tribunal by former administrator, Marion Thomas, who claims unfair dismissal. The right-wing party opened a fundraising centre in Dundonald in 2009. The centre raised nearly £2m in one year. The offices were leased to the BNP by Belfast-based businessman, Jim Dowson — Mrs Thomas’ brother-in-law.