UK far-right leader barred from Queen's garden party

Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:20am EDT
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By Michael Holden

LONDON (Reuters) - Buckingham Palace barred the leader of a British far-right party from entry to a garden party held by Queen Elizabeth on Thursday, to which he had been invited, because he had made it a political issue.

Nick Griffin, head of the British National Party (BNP) which calls for a halt to immigration, voluntary repatriation of immigrants and Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, had been invited to the party as he is a Member of the European Parliament.

However, the decision to include him on the guest list provoked condemnation from anti-racism campaigners and just hours before the event was due to take place, officials announced he was no longer welcome to attend.

"Nick Griffin MEP will be denied entry to today's garden party at Buckingham Palace due to the fact that he has overtly used his personal invitation for party political purposes through the media," a Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said.

Griffin had written on his party's website asking for suggestions of what he should say to the queen if he met her.

The palace spokeswoman said the same rules would be applied to anyone else who tried to politicize such an invitation.

"I think it's a great shame. This is yet again the British establishment closing ranks to shut out the outside because we tell truths they are not comfortable with," Griffin told Sky News, wearing a smart dress suit he had hired for the occasion.

Last year, Griffin decided not to attend another of the queen's garden parties as the guest of a BNP politician on the London Assembly amid a public outcry.

The BNP is at the fringes of British politics and has no seats in the national parliament. But its popularity has grown in recent years and it now has a number of local councilors, and last year Griffin and a party colleague won seats to the European Parliament.

The Unite Against Fascism (UAF) organization said: "This is excellent news and we welcome the fact that Buckingham Palace has barred this Nazi. Nick Griffin is not a politician like any other and should not be treated as such," said UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett. (Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)

<p>British National Party leader Nick Griffin leaves the result of the Local Council election vote count for the constituency of Barking in Dagenham, southern England May 7, 2010. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty</p>