The BNP have until Friday to comply with Electoral Commission regulations on campaign spending or face the risk of prosecution.
The British National Party has been fined £500 by the Electoral Commission for submitting its accounts late, though a far bigger sanction hangs over its head – it faces a maximum penalty of prosecution for failing to give a “true and fair view” of its financial circumstances.
The Times says they have until Friday to produce further details, and quote BNP Deputy Leader Simon Darby’s justification for the “errors”, “if we had said we wanted to spend 10p, it wouldn’t do us any good. … there’s a bit of hyperbole with politics”.
The Electoral Commission, however, played down the possibility of prosecution as “media speculation”.
A spokesperson for the commission told Left Foot Forward:
“Prosecution is the most extreme punishment available. Our role is to make sure the system works well, to try and help parties with all aspects of compliance, to help them submit their accounts on time, and generally assist them.
“They £500 fine is for submitting a late statement of accounts. This is completely unrelated to the latter issue. They have until Friday to produce more details.”
On Tuesday, the commission published full details of party spending for last year’s European Elections. The figures show an increase in BNP spending of £54,030 from the 2004 European Elections, up from £228,813 to £282,843. When the breakdown is examined, however, some alarming figures come to rise.
Their spending on party political broadcasts more than doubled from £5,165 to £12,810 – with spending on advertising rising more than 25,000 per cent to £83,932 having been only £333 five years before. According to the BNP’s Election Return Invoices, downloaded from the Electoral Commission website, the papers which accepted BNP advertising in the 2009 European Elections are:
|Braintree Weekly News||Knutsford Guardian|
|Chelmsford Weekly News||Leigh Journal|
|Clacton & Frinton Gazette||Mid Cheshire Group|
|Colchester Weekly News||Midweek Guardian|
|Echo||Sale & Altrincham Messenger|
|Essex County Standard||St Helens Star|
|Evening Gazette||Stretford & Urmston Messenger|
|Halstead Gazette||Warrington Guardian Series|
|Harwich & Manningtree Standard||World Group|
|Maldon & Burnham Standard|
|Weekly News Brent & Bill|
Though the BNP failed to get a seat in the East of England, their success in North West England might lead the publishers of the ten North West newspapers that accepted their money to ponder how big an influence they played in Nick Griffin’s narrow win.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.