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A British policeman has been suspended from duty after his name appeared on a leaked list of members of the far-right British National Party (BNP). He was on a list of 13,000 names published on the internet, complete with addresses and telephone numbers. British police officers and prison guards are banned from being members of the BNP under race relations legislation.
A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: "The BNP is an organisation whose aims obviously contradict the police officer's duty to promote racial equality. Police officers cannot do anything that calls into question their impartiality, especially in the issue of race."
The BNP had decried the publication of the membership list, thought to have been made by a disgruntled ex-party member, saying it will expose its members to persecution. Various members of French and British far-right groups - and their opponents - talk to us about the divisive issue.
"Racism over the years has been a big problem in the police force"
Sonia Gable is a member of action group 'Stop the BNP'."Suspending this policeman was the right thing to do because he was breaking the rules.The BNP is rightly considered to be incompatible with the role of the police and the prison service. Although membership is not banned in other areas of public service, racism is a sackable offence in most jobs.
Teachers can be BNP members but they may not take their views into the classroom. However, banning membership of this organisation in the police is justified for a number of reasons. Racism over the years has been a big problem in the police force, which has had to work hard to overcome institutional racism.The legislation also makes it harder for members of the BNP to infiltrate the police force, and stops the far right getting a foothold in what is an important and sensitive organisation.
As for the publication of this list I do not think people should be hounded for just being members of the BNP, so long as they keep their racism to themselves."
"If they can be members of the Conservative or Labour parties, then why not the BNP?"
Roy Goodwin is a regional organiser for the BNP based in Blackpool in the north west of England.
"I have every sympathy for this police officer. Members of the police force are expected to be professional, which means leaving politics out of the job. There is absolutely no reason why he should not be allowed to keep his membership and carry on being a policeman.
If they can be members of the Conservative or Labour parties, then why not the BNP? The BNP is an established political party with council seats, after all.
As far as I am aware this list is still on the internet, and every idiot with a computer can see it. I know that party members have been getting abusive and racist phone calls. Many of these part members are old-age pensioners who have had plenty of abuse."
"The release of this list is a cynical attempt by the BNP to present themselves as victims"
Chris Keates is General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest UK-wide teachers' union."I believe that the release of this list is nothing more than a cynical attempt by the BNP to present themselves as victims and to gain publicity for their vile agenda.
The NASUWT has long held the view, and was the first teachers' union to raise it with ministers, that those who declare their affiliation to the BNP should not be allowed to work in the teaching profession or in public services."
"It is totally unacceptable that BNP members should be ostracised like this"
Georges Moreau is a spokesman for the Front National, a mainstream French political party that maintains close ties with the BNP."In France you can be a member of any political party and be a public servant, policeman or otherwise. In the UK, the BNP has won local elections and is a valid political party.
It is therefore totally unacceptable that its members should be ostracised like this. If you are a teacher, your stance must always be neutral. Similarly for the police. You can work for the government as a public servant but political considerations should be left at the door. Still people must have the right to have their own political views and be allowed to have membership of whichever political party they want."