June 10, 2009 / 5:32 AM / 8 years ago

Protesters break up BNP news conference

<p>British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin (C) reacts as he leaves a news conference after it was disrupted by protestors, outside of the Houses of Parliament in London June 9, 2009. Scores of protesters shouting "Nazi scum, off our streets" broke up a news conference held by the far-right British National Party's two European deputies outside parliament on Tuesday.Stephen Hird</p>

LONDON (Reuters) - Scores of protesters throwing eggs and shouting "Nazi scum, off our streets" broke up a news conference on Tuesday by the British National Party which has just won its first seats in the European Parliament.

BNP leader Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, who both won European Parliament seats in the north of England in last week's vote, had just started giving an open-air news conference outside parliament when they were charged by protesters.

They threw eggs which broke on Griffin's shoulder and at least one protester hit him with the stick of a placard, a Reuters photographer on the scene said.

Chased by the protesters, Griffin and Brons fled in waiting cars. Demonstrators struck the cars with placards, which bore the slogan "Stop the Fascist BNP," as they accelerated away.

A police spokeswoman said two people had been taken to hospital after the protest, but she had no more information about them or their injuries.

Police were looking into an allegation of assault on a woman at the protest and investigating reports of a road collision linked to the demonstration, she said. No one had been arrested.

Police guarding parliament did not intervene in the protest.

The BNP, which campaigns for a halt to immigration, voluntary repatriation of immigrants and British withdrawal from the European Union, has won local council seats but is not represented in the British parliament.

<p>British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin (R) reacts as he leaves a news conference after it was disrupted by protestors, outside of the Houses of Parliament in London June 9, 2009. Scores of protesters shouting "Nazi scum, off our streets" broke up a news conference held by the far-right British National Party's two European deputies outside parliament on Tuesday.Stephen Hird</p>

URBAN SUPPORT

It is shunned by mainstream parties which regard its policies as racist. But it has gathered support in urban areas among a working class hurt by the worst recession in decades and competing for jobs and services with immigrants.

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It won more than 940,000 votes in last week's European elections, enough to give it its first two deputies under a proportional representation system.

Griffin said the protesters were a "mob for hire" that included supporters of the Labour Party.

"This is a mob of students, lecturers, probably a few civil service parasites ... and hardcore activists and supporters primarily of the Labour Party," he told the BBC.

An official of Unite Against Fascism, set up in response to what it sees as the rising threat from the extreme right in Britain and which organised the protest, was unrepentant.

"I say to all those people that voted for them: They voted for the wrong thing. They voted for civil war, destruction and conflict in communities and surely that is a terrible thing to happen," Weyman Bennett, the group's national secretary, told reporters.

The BNP was helped in last week's election by a low turnout and protest voting after the major parties were tarred by a scandal over politicians' perks.

Additional reporting by Stephen Hird; writing by Keith Weir; editing by Richard Balmforth

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