BNP 'exploiting military charities' as it plans to hijack poppy appeal

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The BNP has been exploiting public support for British troops by holding fundraising drives for military charities.

The far-right party has offered its help to struggling charities, claiming that it is “in the interests of the British people”, and has highlighted a series of donations to soldiers and veterans’ organisations on its website. The party intends to hijack the Poppy Appeal by calling on its members to sell poppies for the Royal British Legion. There are also plans to hold a book auction to raise money for Help for Heroes, a charity for injured soldiers.

However, The Times has learnt that the BNP has vastly exaggerated the amount of money it has given. On other occasions it has taken credit for donations given by individual members.

Nick Griffin, the party leader, claimed on its website that the BNP gave £25,000 “worth of help” to a struggling veterans’ charity in Scotland known as FEBA, an acronym for the military term, Forward Edge of Battle Area. But the organisation, which accepted support from the BNP, saying that otherwise it would have to shut down, said it had been given just £3,000 by a local party activist and some heating equipment from the party.

Simon Darby, the deputy leader of the BNP, said that “sometimes we gild the lily a little bit” in relation to its website claims. “But all political parties do that,” he told The Times.

Anti-BNP campaigners accused the party of exploiting the concerns of voters about British involvement in Afghanistan for political gain. They said that its donation claims were more likely to be “hollow promises”.

The party has also highlighted, on its website, individual donations by its members to organisations including the Royal British Legion and the Gurkha Welfare Trust.

Mr Darby said: “Sometimes it’s not us, it’s our members giving it on our behalf. It’s much the same thing. We’re one big family. That’s the way we are.”

Charities expressed concern that individual donations were being used for political gain, placing them in an awkward position because it was impossible to track the origin of payments. The Royal British Legion was recently offered a donation from Rachel Firth, from Huddersfield, who happened to be a member of the BNP.

The Legion, which does not accept party donations, agreed to take the money when Ms Firth assured the charity that it would not be used for political gain.

Robert Lee, a spokesman for the Legion, said that news of the donation was subsequently on the BNP website even though the money had not yet arrived.

The Gurkha Welfare Trust has repeatedly asked the BNP to take down news from its website of a donation that was made by an individual BNP member. The party has refused.

Help For Heroes said that it would accept money from any source, provided that it was legal.

The BNP plans to auction two books by Andy McNab, the former SAS trooper, to raise money for the charity. Mr McNab has demanded the books back and said that he was “sick to the stomach” about the situation. continues here

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