BNP leader compares Army generals to Nazi war criminals

BRITISH National Party leader Nick Griffin compared UK generals to Nazi war criminals tonight after they accused his party of hijacking military symbols.

Mr Griffin also sparked outrage by claiming Winston Churchill would join the BNP if he was still alive and suggesting his party was the most widely supported among rank-and-file soldiers.

His extraordinary claims came amid last-ditch efforts to stop the BBC screening a Question Time debate between Mr Griffin and other politicians on Thursday.

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A statement on the BNP website lashed out at senior figures including ex-army chiefs General Sir Mike Jackson and General Sir Richard Dannatt.

It accused them of "breaking all military protocol" by writing to The Times voicing anger at the BNP's use of images of Churchill and spitfire planes during recent European election campaigns.

"There is a prima facie case for charging Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, William Hague and David Cameron with waging aggressive war against Iraq," Mr Griffin said.

"The Nuremberg War Crimes Trials set the precedent when the leaders of Nazi Germany were charged with invading other countries which represented no military threat to Germany.

"Along with the political leadership of Nazi Germany, the chiefs of staff of the German army, Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel, were also charged with waging aggressive war.

"Sir Richard and Sir Mike fall squarely into this bracket and they must not think that they will escape culpability for pursuing the illegal wars in Iran and Afghanistan."

In their letter, the generals wrote: "We call on all those who seek to hijack the good name of Britain's military for their own advantage to cease and desist.

"The values of these extremists – many of whom are essentially racist – are fundamentally at odds with the values of the modern British military, such as tolerance and fairness."

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General Jackson specifically attacked the BNP for using the Army's image.

He told the Times: "The BNP is claiming that it has a better relationship with the Armed Forces than other political parties. How dare they use the image of the Army, in particular, to promote their policies. These people are beyond the pale."

But Mr Griffin, who was elected as an MEP earlier this year, told Sky News that his party was popular among the forces rank-and-file.

"I'm the one who talks to the families of young squaddies and large numbers of ex-servicemen and they all say that almost everyone at the coalface, fighting in Afghanistan, vote for the British National Party," he said.

Mr Griffin dismissed claims that he wanted a white-only military, but admitted that the Victoria Cross-holding black corporal, Johnson Beharry, would not be allowed to join the BNP.

Laying claim to Britain's greatest wartime leader in another interview, the MEP told ITV: "If Winston Churchill were alive and in British politics today the things he said about the dangers of mass immigration – not individual colour people – who are fine – but immigration en masse, the things he said about Islam, and the things he said about the dangers of a federal Europe would actually get him expelled from the Conservative Party.

"His own place would be in the British National Party."

Wales Secretary Peter Hain tonight continued his bid to stop the edition of Question Time being aired, on the grounds that the BNP is currently illegal because it does not allow ethnic minorities to join.

BBC director general Mark Thompson has already rejected Mr Hain's argument, but Mr Hain has now asked the corporation's governing Trust to think again.

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A spokesman for the Trust confirmed it had received an appeal from the Cabinet minister.

Meanwhile, the BNP was facing an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office after an apparent list of its members surfaced on the internet.

The spreadsheet posted on the Wikileaks site featured names addresses and telephone numbers for some 16,000 individuals, including serving and former members of the military, doctors, and an airline pilot.

Notes attached to some entries recorded their "skills", with one man's entry reading: "Has large van available."

A comment next to another member seemed to refer to his physical similarity to Mr Griffin, stating: "Double for Nick."

The party denounced the list as a "malicious forgery", saying it had no connection with "thousands" of the people named.

But assistant information commissioner Mick Gorrill said: "The ICO is investigating this further breach of the BNP membership list. We will establish the full facts before deciding on any regulatory action."

A Conservative Party spokesman described Mr Griffin's remarks comparing the generals to Nazi war criminals as "absolutely despicable and abhorrent".