Below is an archive of selected news stories and photos relating to anti-fascist & far-right activity in the three counties area. The articles are arranged in date order (most recent first).
Bid to find out about man killed in Spanish Civil War – published by Worcester News on 9th February 2012
IT is 75 years since the only known fatality from Worcestershire died in the Spanish Civil War and a campaign is being launched to honour his sacrifice.
Little is known about Jack Watson, from Worcester, other than that he was a member of the International Brigades and he died on the last day of the Battle of Jarama on February 27, 1937.
That battle was an attempt by General Franco’s Nationalists to dislodge the Republican lines along the river Jarama, just east of Madrid, and resulted in thousands losing their lives.
County councillor Richard Udall, who uncovered the details about Mr Watson on a Spanish Civil War memorial website, wants to find out more about the volunteer and believes he should be remembered.
“I have been unable to find out any information about this man except that he came from Worcester and where and when he died,” said Coun Udall, who represents Labour. “If anybody knows anything else, if he has any living family, please get in contact.
“I believe Worcester and Worcestershire need to honour people like Mr Watson; they sacrificed a lot in the fight for Spanish freedom and to try and stop fascism.
“It was left to volunteers from across the world to come to the aid of Spain in its hour of need. clearly many, like Mr Watson, paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
BNP U-turn on Stroud headquarters - published by The Guardian on 30th September 2010
The British National party has shelved plans to move its national media department to a trading estate in Stroud, Gloucestershire following protests from residents and politicians.
More than 100 people attended a meeting last night called to fight the BNP’s proposal only to learn that the far-right organisation had reversed its decision.
In a statement the BNP said the local economy had been deprived of a cash injection and jobs and blamed the “far-left” Socialist party for running a campaign against it.
One of the organisers of the meeting, Chris Moore, a member of the Socialist party, said it was important to “remain vigilant” in case the BNP revived its plans.
He said other mainstream political parties, not just the Socialist party, had fought against the proposals.
In its statement announcing that the party was scrapping its plans, the BNP accused the protesters of being undemocratic.
The statement said: “It is no problem to us, but is a blow to the local economy because all the office supplies, rates and taxes and ancillary business which employees in the area would bring, have now been lost to Stroud and Painswick.”
It added: “Previously, the BNP had announced its intention of moving its national media department to a unit on the Salmon Springs trading estate between Stroud and Painswick.”
The statement concluded: “The BNP is a recognised political party for which a million people have voted. We have five national offices across the country, and have many other accommodation possibilities open to us where we are welcomed by democratically minded people.”
Teenager explains BNP attack - published by This Is Gloucestershire on 20th July 2010
The teenager who hurled a drink over British National Party leader Nick Griffin said he wanted him to know people will not tolerate his views.
The 18-year-old, from Stroud, caught a taxi to the Falcon Inn in Painswick because he wanted to make his point peacefully but forcefully with Mr Griffin.
“I have a serious objection to the BNP,” he said. “I had intended go and confront him verbally and say my piece to him. Something needs to be done wherever he goes.
“While I was outside, he was leaving the pub and I was not comfortable with him visiting the area without getting a taste of people’s feelings towards him.”
He said he left the pub on July 11 after an argument with another of Mr Griffin’s party. While waiting outside, the teen saw his chance as the BNP leader walked out of the front door.
“I left the pub voluntarily because after having a conversation with one member of the party – I was sworn at by some of his colleagues,” said Ben, who did not want to be identified with his full name.
“I felt a bit intimidated – there were 20 of them.
“Nick Griffin came out and I decided to splash him with Guinness. I was swiftly put in a headlock by one of his security people. I was backing away and had my hands splayed out.
“They started taking me down the road, and I was worried about that.
“Then a member of staff from the Falcon came out and took me off the BNP security person and took me back in to the pub. Then I was asked to leave the pub via a different door.”
But he said he was later spat on in the street and verbally abused by a member of the party in a car.
He said he declined to make a formal complaint to the police, and excused the spitting incident, as he had thrown the drink, although not the glass, over Mr Griffin.
BNP spokesman John Walker said: “People have to start to realise now that they cannot go around taking liberties with a member of the European Parliament, whichever party they represent.
“We won’t put up with it. It is not civilised behaviour. If he got duffed up, he was a victim of his own misfortune.
“Everyone has a legitimate outlet for their opinions at the ballot box.
“He was asked to leave the pub. He chose to wait outside and threw a pint of beer.
“Whatever happened after that, I have no sympathy for him.”
Staff at the Falcon Inn declined to comment.
Last week, Gloucestershire police issued a statement regarding the incident confirming Ben did not want to make a formal complaint.
Anarchist demo outside Hereford election - published by Hereford Times on 6th May 2010
THE singing and dancing has already begun at the general election count in Hereford.
But the noise is coming from a group of anarchists protesting against the voting process.
The group of around 20 have also shouted anti-fascist songs aimed at the British National Party candidate and his supporters who have just arrived at the Hereford Leisure Centre.
One anarchist even managed to enter the leisure centre and shouted “preaching Nazi scum” at the volunteers counting the votes.
He was quickly escorted outside the building by security.
The anarchist banners included the phrases “voting changes nothing” and “my grandparents did not vote for fascists, they shot them”.
The Hereford Times were told to go away in no uncertain terms when they approached the protesters for an interview.
BNP members pelted with eggs by protesters in Ross-On-Wye - published by This Is Gloucestershire on 26th October 2009
Protestors pelted British National Party members with eggs and tried to scale a wall outside a fundraising dinner.
Around 100 protesters turned up at The Chase Hotel in Ross-on-Wye on Saturday.
They demonstrated their anger with banners and placards shortly before 5pm.
A 19-year-old man from Worcester was given a fixed penalty notice for a minor public order offence.
Protester Tegan Cooper, 25, from Linton, said: “I heard about the protest on Friday and decided to go along.
“I don’t agree with the BNP policies at all and I wanted to show my anger at the people who do by joining in.
“There were about 100 people at the hotel with flags and banners.
“Quite a lot of people went in but we didn’t see Nick Griffin.
“We shouted at the other people as they went in and some people threw eggs.
“Two women even managed to climb the wall of the hotel but they were soon dragged out.
“Hopefully the BNP will now realise what people think of them.”
The party hit the headlines this week when leader Nick Griffin was controversially invited as a guest on the BBC’s Question Time programme on Thursday.
Administrator Sarah Brown, 28, felt it was important to show the party was not welcome in her home town.
She said: ”I live in Ross-on-Wye so when I heard the BNP were due to hold a meeting here I felt outraged.”
Dozens of police officers, including riot vans and police dogs, were seen at the hotel.
Cars hooted their horns as they passed the hotel and police with sniffer dogs walked around the walls of the hotel grounds.
A West Mercia Police spokesman said: “A 19-year-old man from Worcestershire was dealt with by police as a result of the protest. He was given a fixed penalty notice for a minor public order offence.”
Nick Griffin and BNP delegates left the hotel yesterday following the dinner on Saturday night.
Retired MP and chairman of Hereford Labour Party Bob Clay, 63, said the police presence at the hotel was a waste of taxpayers’ money.
No one from the BNP was available to comment on the protest.
A spokesman for The Chase Hotel refused to comment on whether or not it hosted the BNP, but confirmed the hotel was closed for a private function on Saturday.
Scuffles break out among BNP opponents in Ross-On-Wye - published by Hereford Times on 24th October 2009
SCUFFLES broke out this evening outside The Chase Hotel in Ross-on-Wye as some protesters tried to stop BNP (British National Party) supporters arriving at a fund-raising event.
Police put one protester in the back of a police van after a man appeared to lash out at a car which arrived for the BNP dinner.
An egg was thrown at another vehicle which arrived at the hotel.
Demonstrators had started to arrive at The Chase Hotel shortly before 5pm and, within minutes, more people came to voice their disapproval at the BNP’s presence.
Many people told Hereford Times reporter Paul Rogers that BNP leader Nick Griffin was at the event.
Jesse Norman and Philippa Roberts, the respective Conservative and Labour parliamentary candidates for Herefordshire and South Herefordshire, were among the 100-strong crowd gathered outside the hotel.
Rural hotel cancels BNP meeting – published by BBC News on 10th March 2009
A secret meeting of the far right British National Party (BNP) was called off after their plans leaked out.
The Park Hotel in Falfield, Gloucs, accepted the booking, but protesters found out and the hotel’s owners cancelled on police advice.
The protest went ahead outside the nearby Huntsman pub which had been the original BNP rendezvous point.
The protesters advised the pub’s owners to close which they did, saying they felt “intimidated” by the situation.
BNP organisers had booked the Park Hotel for an official fundraising evening, under the name of British Heritage, on Sunday night.
Kaye Thomas, landlady at the Huntsman, told BBC News: “We’ve got family, it’s a family-run hotel.
“We felt very intimidated and this should never have happened. We’re not part of any political organisation.”
Trades union activist Tim Lezard said: “We wanted to make it quite clear that if anybody had got the message that the BNP dinner was on and came along, that they knew that their racist and divisive policies would not be welcome in the south west.”
Simon Darby of the BNP told BBC News: “We have here a perfectly legitimate political party raising money within the political process and a group of left-wing trades unionists, funded by the Labour Party using intimidatory tactics to try and get that meeting stopped.”
Another BNP member explained why the booking had been made under a false name.
Michael Simpkins said: “At some venues we do use our own name but that is because if they left us alone we would quite happily book under our own name.
“We don’t want any trouble so we book under different names so no-one knows we are there apart from our own members.”
Herefordshire brothers’ racist graffiti at house in Hinton – published by Hereford Times on 2nd March 2009
TWO brothers who painted racist National Front graffiti onto a house in Hereford have been jailed.
Their message referred to Pakistanis – but the property was rented by a Portuguese family, a court heard.
Joanne Barker, prosecuting, said a 15-year-old girl saw the pair writing on her home in Hinton. Thirty minutes later they returned with a scourer to remove the words.
Christopher Walker, aged 21, of Green Street, St James, Hereford, and 22-year-old Mark Walker, of River View, Ross-on- Wye, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment.
The younger brother also admitted theft of a mobile phone from a shop customer, while the elder one further pleaded guilty to breaching a suspended jail sentence.
Judge Andrew Geddes said the brothers both “possessed deeply unpleasant racist views”, adding: “This kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated in a modern society.”
He jailed Mark Walker for six months and his brother for nine months, which included the suspended sentence for criminal damage.
The brothers also sprayed a swastika onto the home at 11pm on May 9 last year, Worcester Crown Court heard.
Mark Walker used further racist language after his arrest, and his brother railed against Polish families being housed in the area.
Tim Sapwell, defending, said Christopher Walker had suffered the effects of an extremely disturbed childhood. The father-of-one grew up angry and confused, venting his frustration against property.
Mr Sapwell said Mark Walker had an entrenched racist attittude which needed to be challenged.
He carried out the crime while drunk. Custody would do little to change his views, Mr Sapwell added.
Anti-BNP activists mistakenly target Gloucestershire pensioners – published by This is Gloucestershire on 24th November 2008
Pensioners have had their property vandalised and received threatening phone calls after they were mistakenly targeted as active BNP members.
The attacks follow the release of a 12,000-name list which contained contact details of people allegedly signed up to the far-right political party.
In Gloucestershire, 68 people were named and since the list’s publication last week, police have received six reports of vandalism and harassment in Cheltenham and Gloucester.
Cheltenham widow Natalia Colthurst said she received six threatening calls, in which she was asked her name and why she supports the BNP. The caller signed off with the ominous “we know where you live”.
The 72-year-old, who lives in Whaddon Road, was advised by bereavement councillors to join social groups and organisations when her husband died in 2006.
As well as joining the BNP to meet new people, she became a member of the Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Green parties, as well as signing up to the Quakers, the Spiritualists and a local Buddhist group.
The former language teacher said after two BNP meetings early last year, she and her elderly friend realised it wasn’t for them and cut ties with the party. She said: “I don’t want to insult them but it was really quite boring. Not at all something for old ladies to do.
“Anyone who knows me, knows I don’t share the views of the BNP. I’m not a member and I wish people would stop phoning me.
“I did try to explain to these people the situation, but they just didn’t seem interested and were angry and unpleasant to me. I called the police because I am a little bit worried and I want it to stop.
“I am going to try to contact the BNP and ask them to take me off their list.”
George and June Papps woke up on Saturday morning to find their home in Lysons Avenue, Gloucester, had been vandalised, with graffiti saying BNP Scum scrawled on a wall.
The couple, aged 79 and 77, are both recovering from cancer and said they were singled-out because their son, who has moved away, is a member.
George said: “It’s very upsetting. We have been here for more than 30 years and this is our family home. We have nothing to do with the BNP and everyone who knows us knows that.
“We want to ask whoever did this to leave us alone.”
There have been four other reports of vandalism in Cecil Road, Brunswick Road, Station Road and Bristol Road, all in Gloucester.
A spokesman for Gloucestershire police said: “Criminal damage is never tolerated. We are keeping an eye on other properties on that list to try to avoid a repeat. Anyone with any information should call as our investigation is ongoing.”
BNP activist took part in terror campaign – published by The Guardian on 30th March 2007
A white supremacist who planted a bomb at a mixed-race school in South Africa as part of a campaign of terror designed to destabilise the post-apartheid government has become a leading figure in the British National party’s online operation.
Lambertus Nieuwhof, who now lives in Hereford, was given a suspended sentence after he and two other men tried to bomb the Calvary church school in Nelspruit in 1992. The bomb, which was made from 25kg of stolen explosives, failed to go off.
Now it has emerged that Mr Nieuwhof, who moved to the UK in 1994, has helped set up a number of BNP websites through his company Vidronic Online, as well as helping to establish a BNP branch near his home last November.
Researchers at the anti-fascist organisation Searchlight, who uncovered Mr Nieuwhof’s terrorist past, say his appearance is part of a wider trend. “We know that several far right extremists have left South Africa and have put down roots among groups such as the BNP and pose a growing problem,” said Gerry Gable of Searchlight.
At his home this week, Mr Nieuwhof admitted his role in the bomb plot. “I was a young man and impressionable. It was in the evening and we were trying to make a point because it was a mixed-race school, not hurt anybody.” He said he had turned his back on violence and now believed in the “power of the pen and the ballot box”.
“Everyone should be allowed a mistake,” he added. Mr Nieuwhof was an activist in Eugene Terre’Blanche’s rightwing Afrikaner Resistance Movement [AWB], which in the early 1990s engaged in a terror campaign aimed at provoking a race war. When the bomb he planted failed to go off one of his fellow AWB activists handed himself in, naming Mr Nieuwhof as one of his two accomplices. Mr Nieuwhof says he received a 12-month suspended sentence.
Mr Nieuwhof is not the first far-right South African to turn up on the political scene in the UK. He told the Guardian that he is close friends with another exile, Arthur Kemp, who has played a key role in several BNP campaigns since moving to the UK. Mr Kemp was linked to the murderer of the South African Communist party leader Chris Hani in 1993.
He was one of a number of far-right activists arrested after Hani’s death, but was released without charge. However, information drawn from a list of names produced by Mr Kemp and said to have been passed to the wife of far-right South African MP Clive Derby Lewis was found at the home of Polish-born Janusz Walus, who was convicted of shooting Hani. At the trial Mr Kemp admitted producing a list of names but denied having knowingly supplied a “hitlist”.
“He is a very good friend of mine,” said Mr Neiuwhof yesterday.
Mr Nieuwhof’s company is involved with a number of BNP projects online, including the website for Barking and Dagenham, the party’s most successful branch, where the party has 11 councillors, and he is the administrator for the BNP’s online members’ forum. He is also named as the administration organiser for the Solidarity trade union set up by senior BNP members to protect the rights of “British” workers.
National Front march banned – published by BBC News on 18th April 2000
Home Secretary Jack Straw has banned a St George’s Day march by the National Front through Worcester over the Easter weekend.
The city council, backed by West Mercia Police applied to Mr Straw to block Saturday’s march – prior to St George’s Day on Sunday – fearing an outbreak of violence.
Plans for the march were also opposed by ethnic minority groups and religious leaders.
Violence erupted at a NF march against asylum seekers in Margate, Kent on 9 April when Anti Nazi League supporters protesting against the march clashed with police.
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Neyroud said: “I understand the concerns of those who say that this is a restriction of freedom of speech but we have a duty to balance that freedom against the freedom of others to go about their everyday lives without the fears of serious public disorder.”
David Barlow, chair of the urgent decisions committee on Worcester council, said: “The march would have caused severe public disorder particularly at a busy holiday period when families, tourists and local people should be allowed to enjoy the weekend peacefully and safely.
“The decision sends out a message to people that extreme behaviour against minority groups is not welcome in Worcester.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said the ban had been made under the Public Order Act.
“Mr Straw has taken advice from West Mercia Police and Worcester City Council that serious public disorder would be likely to occur if the march went ahead.”