BNP stripped of candidates right after failing to register with watchdog
The far-right British National Party has been stripped of the right to put up candidates in elections after failing to register its existence with a watchdog.
The Electoral Commission said the BNP had been removed from the register of political parties in Great Britain because it had not submitted the required annual notification and £25 fee which was due yesterday.
It means the party's name, descriptions or emblems cannot be used on ballot papers unless the extremist outfit submits a fresh application to be considered a recognised party.
The BNP - which in 2009 had more than 50 council seats and two MEPs - has been in steep decline for several years and fielded only eight candidates at the general election, down from 338 in 2010.
Its best known figure, Nick Griffin, was replaced as leader by Adam Walker months after losing the party's last remaining European Parliament seat in an electoral meltdown in 2014.
Mr Griffin, who accepted at the time that the BNP could be considered "racist", was later expelled for allegedly "trying to cause disunity" in a bid to destabilise the organisation.
BNP spokesman Stephen Squire said it was a "clerical error on our part" and that the party would submit the necessary paperwork within the next few days.
"It's a little bit embarrassing," he said, but insisted it would be " business as usual" for the party, which intended to contest the London mayoral election and some council seats.
"We've been overwhelmed by the number of phone calls we've had from people concerned we might be disappearing."
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said Britain was a "little better off today because of this news".
He said: " The decent and fair-minded British public have stood up against the BNP and all they stand for - intolerance, hatred and an organisation that worked to stoke fear wherever they could. Britain is a little better off today because of this news, but we should always be mindful that just because the BNP have fallen off the register, they could come back. We also still have organisations like Britain First working to fan the flames of intolerance.
"Today is a victory for the thousands of people and organisations like Hope Not Hate who worked to make the case for an inclusive, welcoming and outward-looking nation."