Queen bars British far-right leader from palace party

22nd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Queen Elizabeth II has withdrawn an invitation for British far-right leader Nick Griffin to attend a party at Buckingham Palace Thursday because he exploited it for political reasons, the palace said.

The leader of the British National Party (BNP) had been invited to the event, attended by about 8,000 people in the gardens of the queen's London residence, by virtue of his election to the European Parliament last year.

But a palace spokeswoman said the invitation had been withdrawn just hours before the tea party was due to start because Griffin had used his attendance to make a political point by publicising the fact he was invited.

"Nick Griffin MEP will be denied entry to today's garden party at Buckingham Palace due to the fact that he has overtly used his personal invitation for party political purposes through the media," she said.

"This in turn has increased the security threat and the potential discomfort to the many other guests also attending."

She refused to expand on what the security threat was, but told AFP that the decision to bar Griffin had been taken in consultation with police.

The withdrawal of the invitation was not intended to show any "disrespect to the democratic process", under which elected lawmakers were entitled to attend the garden party, she stressed.

"However, we would apply the same rules to anyone who tried to blatantly politicise their attendance in this way," she said.

Earlier, Griffin had appeared on television to discuss his attendance, which followed his decision to pull out of last year's palace garden party because of opposition from left-wing activists, the media and the London mayor.

"The palace have made it very, very clear that they will not discriminate against any elected MEP and I think that's the proper thing to do, so there's no embarrassment there at all," Griffin told the GMTV breakfast TV show.

He said he was "pretty sure" he would not meet the queen during the party and would not try to speak to her, although he added: "If we happen to meet over the sandwiches, of course I will."

Campaign group Unite Against Fascism had earlier condemned Griffin's invitation to the party, saying: "Events like this help to make Nick Griffin and the BNP seem legitimate in the eyes of racist voters."

Last year, Mayor of London Boris Johnson said that Griffin's presence at the garden party would turn it into a "political stunt".

The BNP campaigns for an immediate halt to all immigration and the "voluntary resettlement" of immigrants back to their country of origin.

It won its first two European lawmakers last year but failed in its attempt to win a seat in the House of Commons in May's general election.

© 2010 AFP

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