BNP leader is pelted with eggs in protest outside Parliament
Published 10/06/2009 | 07:48
British National Party leader Nick Griffin was forced to abandon a press conference outside Parliament yesterday when demonstrators pelted him and his supporters with eggs.
Chanting “Off our streets, Nazi scum”, scores of activists chased him down the street as his bodyguards bundled him into a car.
The angry protest in central London followed the election of Mr Griffin and Andrew Brons as the far-right BNP’s first MEPs on Sunday night.
Two people were taken to hospital after the demonstration and police said they were investigating allegations of common assault and a road collision.
Organisers Unite Against Fascism claimed that Mr Griffin’s security guards punched and kicked demonstrators in scuffles as they escorted him away.
Mr Griffin described the protesters as “far-left thugs” who had “resorted to violence” in the face of the democratic process.
The violence erupted after the BNP leader and Mr Brons arrived for a news conference on College Green in front of the Houses of Parliament just after 2.30pm.
Standing in front of TV cameras, Mr Griffin began by waving newspapers and condemning what he called “press lies” about him and his party.
He had only been speaking for a few minutes when the protesters appeared, shouting and waving placards reading “Stop the fascist BNP”.
After being hit by an egg, Mr Griffin condemned the demonstration as “disgusting” before escaping through the baying crowd to a waiting car.
The activists kicked and struck his car with their placards as it drove off.
Mr Griffin was elected to the European Parliament for the North West of England and Mr Brons for the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Mainstream political parties, trade unions and race relations groups condemned the BNP’s ballot box success, which appeared to come largely at Labour’s expense.
Unite Against Fascism national secretary Weyman Bennett, who organised yesterday’s protest, said it was important to stand up to the far-right party.
“The majority of people did not vote for the BNP, they did not vote at all,” he said.
“The BNP was able to dupe them by saying that they had an answer to people’s problems. They presented themselves as a mainstream party.
“The reality was because the turnout was so low, they actually got elected.”
He added: “We cannot allow the politics of scapegoating to become the common currency of this country.”
But Mr Griffin alleged the three main political parties were trying to prevent the BNP getting its message across by colluding with the protesters.
After the protest, and still covered in egg, he told BBC News: “It’s a very, very sad day for British democracy. People should be entitled to hear what we have to say and to hear journalists question us robustly.”
Mr Griffin announced the BNP was planning to hold a press conference in Manchester and said he hoped the police would take action against any violent protests.