Friday, September 05, 2008

UK: Police to Control Anti-Fascist Demonstration at BNP Festival

by Jon Land
13th August 2008

Special police powers will be used to control an anti-fascist demonstration at a British National Party festival, a police force said today.

The BNP is holding its annual Red, White and Blue festival in Denby, Derbyshire, this weekend and about 500 demonstrators are expected to attend. Derbyshire Constabulary said today that it will use special powers under the Public Order Act 1986 to control the protest which is expected to last most of Saturday.

Only 30 protesters will be allowed to demonstrate next to the event, whilst the number of people gathering before and after a planned rally has been limited to 700. The rally, which involves members of the group Unite Against Fascism, the TUC and Unison, will receive a police escort.

Peter Goodman, assistant chief constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, said: "We are trying to find a balance between allowing legitimate protest and maintaining public safety and minimising inconvenience to people who live or work in the affected area.

"We hope that people will abide by the law and enjoy the opportunity of voicing their opinions in safety."

The BNP has had two requests for a licence to serve alcohol at the event, which will include a speech by the party's leader Nick Griffin, turned down by Amber Valley Borough Council after police raised objections. Police have also banned protesters from straying from the agreed route of the march. If they do so they face possible arrest, police said.

Weyman Bennett, spokesman for Unite Against Fascism, described the BNP event as a "hate fest".

He said: "People who make a stand against fascism should be congratulated, not restrained. They (the police) should allow as many people as possible to demonstrate."

Josie Nicholls, branch secretary of Unison in Leicestershire, said: "We want to make sure it's a safe and peaceful protest but to make it clear that the BNP aren't welcome wherever they turn up."

Simon Darby, deputy leader of the BNP, said that up to 4,000 of his party's members would attend the festival.

He said: "It has always been a completely peaceful festival. It's a family festival, we don't want anything else. We have our kids, our wives and our girlfriends coming. Can you imagine the fuss if we brought 700 people to demonstrate against the Labour Party at their conference? It would be outrageous."