British National Party leader Nick Griffin was declared bankrupt yesterday but insisted it was a “good day”.
The right-wing politician said he would continue as a Member of the European Parliament and run for re-election in May.
An Insolvency Service listing showed he was declared bankrupt at Welshpool and Newtown County Court in Powys.
Mr Griffin took to Twitter after the news emerged, saying: “Being bankrupt does NOT prevent me being or standing as an MEP. It does free me from financial worries. A good day!”
Moments later, he added that he intended to publish a booklet of debt advice for for his constituents, based on his experiences.
A statement on the BNP website said he had applied for an Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA), which would have ringfenced him from his creditors. The deal would have seen him pay back 42p in every pound owed over five years.
However, Gilbert Davies & Partners, his former solicitors and main petitioning creditor, declined the offer and a judge granted Mr Griffin’s petition for bankruptcy. A hearing last February had ordered Mr Griffin to pay almost £120,000 in outstanding costs to the law firm.
There had been speculation his bankruptcy might disqualify him from standing for re-election, but the Electoral Commission says restrictions on standing apply only if an individual is subject to a bankruptcy restriction order or debt relief restriction order. The Insolvency Service said these orders have not been made in Mr Griffin’s case.
Gilbert Davies & Partners had represented Mr Griffin in the early stages of his case against the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2009, before he sacked them part way through.
The commission litigated against Mr Griffin and two other BNP officials, alleging the party’s constitution, membership criteria, employment practices and services to the public may have breached discrimination laws that apply to political parties.
In his statement yesterday, Mr Griffin said: “This order will not prevent me fighting for the interests of the British people or leading the British National Party to a fresh round of electoral victories. It’s of no political significance whatsoever. I will take whatever is thrown at me and deal with it. I champion the right of the British people to their land and I will never surrender.
“On a practical note, I am now much better able to advise and help the huge numbers of decent ordinary folk in my constituency who have financial difficulties of their own. I will be producing an advice booklet on dealing with debt very shortly and can speak from personal experience rather than from an ivory tower in Brussels.”
Mr Griffin went on: “Voters are entitled to a genuine choice in May’s European and local elections, to support a party which opposes all immigration under all circumstances, and which offers radical, common-sense alternative policies on economics and energy.”
His statement hinted he had sought advice on legal action against Gilbert Davies & Partners for professional negligence.
The BNP leader will be automatically discharged from bankruptcy on 2 January, 2015. Before 1 April, 2004, being bankrupt would have disqualified a person from standing as an MEP or MP. That was amended in 1986, so that only the addition of a bankruptcy restriction order on top of being bankrupt results in being disqualified.
Mr Griffin was elected to the European Parliament in 2009, taking one of eight seats in the North West of England with an 8 per cent share of the vote.