|Sacked!||John Tyndall comments on being (temporarily) outside the party he founded|
Following the sitting of a so-called 'disciplinary tribunal' in Chingford, Essex, on the 3rd August, I have been informed that I have been expelled from the British National Party.
To begin with, I only knew of this third-hand. It was about a week before I received formal notification of the verdict, but in the meantime I had been told by a friend who learned it from one of Nick Griffin's circle. Apparently their practice is to tell each other before they tell me. Knowing the mentality of these people, I am not overcome by surprise.
I have contacted a solicitor to obtain advice concerning an action in the High Court for reinstatement, and I have been informed that my case appears to be strong. Because this may be a case pending, I should not comment on any of the details pertaining to the charges on which I have been found 'guilty'. Unlike some others, I am aware of the fact that cases awaiting a court verdict are 'sub judice, and that comment upon them in advance of this could prejudice the case.
I can, however, inform everyone that the tribunal found me 'guilty' on two of seven charges originally brought against me. These were that I had been found to have 'slandered' Mr. Nick Griffin and also 'collectively slandered' the BNP's leadership, in each case in the course of private correspondence. These charges, together with other matters pertaining to the lead-up to and conduct of my 'trial', will form the basis of my action for reinstatement. As indicated, I should say no more about them at this stage.
Aside from these matters, I can comment on some of the 'bare bones' of what happened before and during the 'disciplinary' hearing.
Before the hearing, an attempt was made by BNP North West Organiser Bev Jones to mediate between Mr. Griffin and me by way of trying to find a 'compromise' settlement that would preclude disciplinary action. Mrs. Jones acted with energy and perseverance, but it soon became clear that the only kind of settlement that would satisfy Mr. Griffin was a grovelling apology on my part and an undertaking not again to be a 'bad boy'. Through Mrs. Jones I communicated to Mr. Griffin that a settlement on those terms was not remotely acceptable.
I was then informed of the charges in advance by Nick Griffin. They consisted of the following:-
I was informed by Mr. Griffin that the tribunal would be selected from a roll of eight people, whose names were supplied. Of four of them I had never heard. Three of the other four I knew to be firm Griffin supporters, while I did not know of the other one's leanings on any of these matters though I did know him slightly.
I was also informed that the prosecutor would be Tony Lecomber!
I was invited to exercise the right of two objections to people on the roll of prospective tribunal members. I did not do so because I saw little point in such an exercise: I did not believe it would make the slightest difference to the verdict.
My natural inclination, when hearing of this action against me and the requirement that I attend a hearing to answer the charges, was to suggest to the people concerned that they dispose of those charges by consigning them to a nether part of their anatomies. However, as with people running crazily around with boxes of matches in oil refineries, one has to take such things seriously in view of the damage that can be done if one does not. If I were to challenge the findings of a tribunal through the courts of the land, I would have to be able to demonstrate that I had gone through all the regulatory internal procedures first.
When my friends and I arrived for the hearing we found that the tribunal was in fact made up of four members, not three. One of them was Tony MacDonnell from Leeds. Of the other three, I had never seen nor heard of any of them. For the same reasons as I have given above, I saw no point in getting into an argument over whether three or four were appropriate.
The chairman of the tribunal was one Arthur Roker, one of the gentlemen of whom I had never heard. At the lunch interval Mr. Roker asked to be relieved of this position, and it passed to Tony MacDonnell, who presided to the end, and (presumably) through the period of deliberation about the verdict which took place after our group had left. I have subsequently asked for the names of the other two sitting members but so far have received no reply.
Immediately on seeing the tribunal members, I asked if all of them were paid-up members of the party. All affirmed that they were. I saw no point in asking to see their cards, since they could claim they had left them at home. In the case of one of these tribunal members, I have heard from people who have spoken to him that he is not paid up. I feel, however, that proving this would be a futile quest.
Before the start of the proceedings I put forward a motion that there should be 'no trial' and I gave two grounds:-
(1) At a time when the case was sub judice, i.e. awaiting hearing and verdict, a statement was made in a BNP general members' bulletin which effectively pronounced me guilty in advance, and an article written by Nick Griffin in Identity magazine, virtually did the same thing. It should be presumed that nearly all members of the party would have read the bulletin and that at least a good number would have read the article in Identity.
(2) Much of the evidence used by both the prosecution and defence involved writings by and against Tony Lecomber. In addition to this, it is well known throughout the party that there is a state of strong mutual hostility between Tony Lecomber and me. In consideration of this, I moved that it was quite preposterous that Mr. Lecomber should be acting as prosecution counsel.
These two applications were refused, as of course I expected them to be. Nevertheless, I believed it right to put them on record for later reference.
See no evil!
On hearing from all four tribunal members that they were paid-up party members, I asked them if they had read the recent general members' bulletin in which the 'guilty' verdict had been pronounced. All four replied that they had not! I then asked them if they had read the Identity article. Again, all four replied that they had not!
I leave you the reader to draw your own conclusions on this.
In the course of the hearing, Tony Lecomber dropped four of the charges, leaving the tribunal to judge three at the end. No reason was given at the time but I was subsequently informed that it was due to lack of time for the charges to be heard properly! This will give the reader some idea of the toy-town atmosphere in which the proceedings were conducted. For the BNP to be taken seriously as a political party, it should regulate its internal disciplinary procedures in a manner approximating as nearly as possible to the standard processes of British law. The idea that a court of law anywhere in the land would drop charges against a defendant for no more serious reason than that there wasn't time to hear them in a single day will surely strike people as comic. If the agenda at my 'trial' was too full for proceedings to be completed on the day in question, they should have been adjourned until another day. Whilst I cannot say that I would have anticipated a further day of this with any particular pleasure, it would in fact have been the only proper course to adopt.
My own personal view of the reason for these dropped charges is that Mr.Lecomber realised before very long that they amounted to a constitutional and legal 'dog's breakfast' and that the more he proceeded with them the more ridiculous he would make himself look.
I was 'subversive'
As an instance of what I mean here, let me refer to the charge of 'subversion'. Just what evidence was there for this? It turned out that the 'evidence' consisted of numerous criticisms I had made, in the columns of Spearhead and in some internal bulletins of limited circulation, of certain policy and executive decisions by the party leadership, including some public postures which could only fairly be described as stunts. I maintained that in a supposedly democratic party I had the right, as any member had, to express my opinions on such matters, and I also reminded the tribunal that I had given glowing praise to party achievements when praise was deserved.
No one in the room, not even Mr. Lecomber, suggested that such right of criticism should be denied, but Mr. Lecomber went on to maintain that it was not the criticism itself that was out of order but the volume and repetitive nature of it. In other words, I had criticised too often and too much! I replied to this by saying that the frequency and volume of the criticism were what they were because the occasions for criticism had been so constant and the call for it so strong.
So what arose out of all this hullabaloo was - or appeared to be - that up to a certain point internal criticism constituted an exercise of democratic rights, but beyond that point it became 'subversion'! Perhaps every BNP member should be issued with a set of coupons through which he or she would be able to make critical remarks about the running of the party; then once those coupons had been used up any further criticism would be a disciplinary offence!
I think that the absurdity of this line of argument became so evident after much wasted time that it was abandoned, but no admission of this was ever made.
The pot and the kettle
As for the charge that I was guilty of having 'slandered' Tony Lecomber, this surely must have been someone's idea of a joke. The word 'slander', actually, is normally used in legal circles to apply to defamation of a person by the spoken word, while the appropriate term for written defamation is libel. However, that is a mere minor detail besides the broader implications of the charge.
Let me quote two statements that appeared in a certain publication a while back, both of them made in reference to Yours Truly: -
Both these quotations come from an article by Mr. Tony Lecomber in the Summer 2000 issue of Patriot magazine. In fact, Mr. Carr has denied claiming that I ever said such a thing to him. These statements and others by Mr. Lecomber in the magazine could easily have been taken by me to have been defamatory to my character. However, no one heard me squawking that Tony Lecomber should be put on disciplinary charges for making them; I recognise that such abuse is part of the inevitable, albeit sometimes unpleasant, cut and thrust of politics - and never more so than in internal squabbles within parties. If you can't stand the heat..., as they say.
But Mr. Lecomber went much further in a little satirical publication of his own, issued a year or so later, which he called The Evening Chronicle. Here are few gems from that rag:-
No disciplinary action, whether on grounds of slander, libel or anything else, was ever taken by the party leadership against Mr. Lecomber in consequence of these attacks on me; nor, as I have indicated, did I ever suggest that it should have been. And aside from these particular attacks which bear upon me personally, I know that he has habitually made similar attacks on other people in the party. Yet, quite astoundingly, Tony Lecomber was considered a fit person to serve as prosecutor against me in the disciplinary hearing on the 3rd August, bringing, among other things, a charge that I had slandered him!
'Theft of property'
Then what about the charge that I had given away party property? Do you want the story of this? I'll give it to you, if only for a laugh.
The last major indoor rally held by the BNP supported by a national mobilisation of members was in November 1998, when I was still head of the party. I arranged for a video film to be made of this rally using Betamax recording equipment, the reason for this being that I wanted the option of using part of it in the party political broadcast planned for the Euro Election scheduled for the coming year. Following Mr. Griffin's assumption of the BNP leadership in 1999, I asked him if he intended that the party would produce copies of this film for marketing in the usual way that had been done in previous years. He showed no interest whatever in any such project, and so I then asked if there was any objection to my using the film to make copies for marketing under a firm set up for the purpose to be known as 'Spearhead Recordings' - provided that out of sales I recompensed the party for the cost of making the original film (which was done). I had 50 copies made, and some readers may recall the film being advertised in our magazine. We just about broke even on this project.
A considerable time later - in fact a few months ago this year - I was approached by Tyr Services, a nationalist marketing company, and asked if I would lend the film for copies to be made and marketed by that company. Since Mr. Griffin & Co. had shown no interest in the film and had never asked for its return, I saw no reason not to accede to this request. Readers will have seen the advertisement for the remake of the rally film in recent issues.
But this little piece of co-operation was, by some peculiar verbal acrobatics, turned into 'theft' of party property and the loan of the film made a disciplinary offence - and by people who, when it was suggested they should market the film on behalf of the party, with profits going to the party, had not wanted to know!
It will perhaps be understood why this charge, along with others, was discreetly shelved by Mr. Lecomber when the sheer absurdity of it had become evident not long through the 'trial' at Chingford. Somehow the phrase 'scraping the barrel' comes to mind!
However, after all this nonsense the tribunal did eventually find me 'guilty' on two of the seven charges brought; and I have specified the two earlier in this report.
Wave of support
Since my expulsion was made known, I have received many enquiring and supportive letters and telephone calls from people in the BNP from all around the country. Some of these people have suggested that the expulsion is an absolute outrage considering that I am the founder of the party and taking into account also the part I played in building it up in its first 17½ years.
While I greatly appreciate these sentiments, I have to say that no one in the BNP, whatever their past record, should be immune from disciplinary action if they have genuinely acted in such a way to deserve it. My case against the expulsion rests not on my contributions in the past but on the fact that I have an absolutely clear conscience over what I have done more recently which has led to the charges.
Many people have asked me what they should do, and advise others to do, as a result of the expulsion. My answer has been the same in all cases:-
(1) In no circumstances should anyone resign membership of the BNP or influence others to do so. Least of all should anyone consider taking part in any breakaway party. These matters must be resolved within the BNP, and they will be. As I urged in a message in the August issue of Spearhead, everyone should remain loyal to the BNP - Britain's only hope. Involvement with any of the fringe nationalist mini-parties is a complete waste of time, and starting up yet more nationalist parties is likewise a waste of time. On no account should anyone allow emotions to cloud their judgement in these matters. Absolute cool heads all round must be the order of the day.
(2) In no circumstances should anyone reduce the effort or support given to coming BNP activities, in particular important ones like pending local government by-elections and, a little further on, next year's local government elections and elections to the European Parliament. Everyone should campaign as hard for the BNP as in the past.
We will overcome present problems by a combination of cool heads and intelligent action, but such action will be the purview of a small circle of close personal friends of mine; it should not involve the general membership of the party. In other words, everyone should carry on as before.
I would like in conclusion to thank all those who have wished me well and given their moral support in this affair. You may rest assured that the battle is not yet over!
A fund will shortly be launched to pay for a legal action for Mr. Tyndall's reinstatement. Details of this will be provided later.