BNP leader to attend Queen's garden party at the Palace

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THE leader of the British National Party is to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party hosted by the Queen.

In a gesture that provoked anger among anti-fascist groups, Richard Barnbrook, a BNP member of the London Assembly, yesterday said he has invited party chairman Nick Griffin to accompany him to the event.

All members of the Assembly are traditionally invited to the event.

Last night Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London accused the British National Party of trying to turn a Buckingham Palace garden party into a "political stunt".

Mr Barnbrook acknowledged his move would cause controversy, but warned the far-Right party would continue to play a role in public life.

He said: "I imagine there will be a to-do and a hoot. These things are going to happen more and more as the party goes forward. If I continue to rattle the cages at City Hall and put noses out of joint while they can't answer my questions, they should look at their own politics."

Mr Johnson wrote to Darren Johnson, Chair of the London Assembly, calling for him to intervene and withdraw Mr Barnbrook's invitation.

He said: "I have learnt today that the London Assembly has passed an invitation to Her Majesty's Garden Party to Richard Barnbrook of the BNP, following previous custom for all Assembly Members to be invited.

"It now transpires, however, that Mr Barnbrook plans to bring as his guest the Leader of the BNP, Mr Nick Griffin, or another prominent member of the party, thereby threatening to turn a happy annual event – at which thousands of people across the country are acknowledged for their service to the community – into a political stunt.

"We cannot tolerate any such abuse of the invitation or any potential embarrassment to Her Majesty. I am therefore writing to call on you to inform Mr Barnbrook – at the earliest opportunity – that he must either bring a guest who will not provoke political controversy, or consider his invitation rescinded."

A spokesman for the BNP confirmed Mr Barnbrook will be taking as his guest Mr Griffin, who was convicted 11 years ago of distributing material likely to incite racial hatred.

He said that for Mr Barnbrook "to snub an invite from the Queen would be absurd. It is something people are going to have to get used to, because if we get elected MEPs this is the kind of thing we are going to be doing on a regular basis".

News of the invitation came days after Mr Barnbrook, a former sculptor and teacher, showed up at the launch of England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, also attended by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace said it was unable to confirm who was attending for data-protection reasons.

He said the London Assembly was one of more than 1,000 organisations given allocations of places for individuals, who are then able to nominate guests.

He added: "The Queen does not scrutinise and is not consulted on the list of accompanying guest names as they are official not personal invitations and as such, Buckingham Palace relies entirely on the nominating organisations.

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